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418 E. Wright St. | Pensacola, FL | 32501


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Fun and e xpl o ra t i o n a r e na t u ra l l y e n c o u rage d wi t h a d ve n t u r e s t hat m ak e the mo st o f o ur spe cta cular bea ch - to - ba y l oc a t i o n. S o, whe t he r yo u p r e f e r to plo w t hr o u g h w a ve s o n a f a st- pa ced wa ve r unne r r i d e, s pl a s h a r o u nd o n t he Ad ve n t u r e s C o ve Wate r park , e x plo r e the G ulf Isla n ds Na tional S eash o r e a boa r d a sta nd u p pa d d le boar d o r r i d e alo n g t he be a ch o n o n e o f o ur bikes, w e invi te you to set t h e speed f o r yo u r o wn u lt i m ate be a ch va c at i o n .

c all to purchase your adventure s pac kage today!


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What does a boutique men’s clothier, a women’s boutique, a unique venue for weddings, parties and hip events, oneof-a-kind stationery, outdoor home and garden furniture, a restaurant for people who like to shop and lunch, and interior design showroom and a lot more have in common?

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120 13 Welcome 16 Life Is Good Today 24 Call of the Wild: Adventures Unlimited

76 The Portofino Lifestyle: A Snapshot of Life at the Beach 84 Just Run with It: Portofino Tri Series

114 For the Health of It 120 A Taste of Portofino Island 126 Sabine: Enduring Beauty, Style, and Grace

30 The Armored Frog

87 Living the Good Life: Roger and Peggy Heroux

40 Two Properties, One Incredible Beach Experience

90 A Century of Naval Prowess: National Naval Aviation Museum

46 Angels in Flight: Pensacola’s Most Celebrated Pilots

96 Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

134 A Bounty of Fun at Pensacola Beach Boardwalk

100 A Southern-Inspired Dinner

138 Together in Paradise

52 Bodacious about Downtown Pensacola 57 Fresh, Flavorful, and Festive 60 A Blueprint for the Future 66 Pensacola Shines Day and Night

132 In Loving Memory: Sabine Mireille Laguna

105 The Show Must Go On: Two Theatre Experiences in Downtown Pensacola 109 What to Do and See at Portofino Island Resort



2015 / 2016 PUBLISHER Li sa Burwe l l E DI T OR -I N -C H I E F Ge ra l d Burwe l l V P OF C R E AT I V E S E RV I C E S Bo b Bro wn A RT DI R E C TOR Tra c e y T ho m a s A S S I S TA N T E DI TOR Jo rd a n St a g g s V I DE O P R ODU C T I ON Ro b e rt Wa g ne r G R A P H I C DE S I G N D e va n Al l e g ri Wa t ki ns Luc y M a shbur n Ri nn Ga rl a ng e r C OP Y E DI TOR M a rg a re t St e ve nso n A DV E RTI S I N G E X E C U TI V E S Jul i e D o rr M a ry Ja ne K i rby Sa m a nt ha M e rri t t C ON TR I B U TI N G WR I T E R S Sa l l i e W. Bo yl e s Lo rra i ne Chri st e n Lo ri Hut zl e r E c ke rt Anne W. Sc hul t z Bi l l We c ke l C ON T R I B U TI N G P H OTOG R A P H E R S Che ryl Ca se y D a vi d M o yna ha n Ro m o na Ro bbi ns Ashl e y Si m m o ns – Pa l a f o x St re e t We d di ngs Bi l l St re ng t h To ny T ha g a rd Bi l l We c ke l

P U B L I C AT I ON P R ODU C TI ON A N D M A N A G EMENT Pre m i e r I sl a nd M a na g e m e nt Gro up , I nc. PUBLISHED BY

824 E Belmont St (Corner 9th Ave) | Pensacola, FL 32501 850-542-7548 Open Tue-Sat 10a-5p European Painted Furniture • Unique Gifts • Jewelry Apparel • Home Accessories • Local Art



T h e Id e a B o u tiqu e. c om


Welcome to Portofino Island Resort. We are honored that so many of you have chosen to stay with us again and again, and we thank you for making Portofino your favorite beach vacation destination. For those of you who are new to the resort, we believe you’ll soon see why so many people love this beautiful stretch of untouched beach and why we call ourselves nature’s last unspoiled playground. We celebrate our beach-to-bay setting—the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico to our south, the scenic Santa Rosa Sound to our north, and the majestic Gulf Islands National Seashore to our east—and we’ve created amenities and activities to showcase the uniqueness of our island location. As Premier Island Management Group celebrates its seventh year as the rental management and homeowners association management team for Portofino Island Resort, Beach Club Resort and Spa, and Emerald Isle, we dive into 2015 with renewed hope and ambitious plans for the future of our properties, the amenities we offer, and those who serve you while you are here. Our third installment of Portofino Life touches on many of these plans. In “A Blueprint for the Future,” we unveil plans for a major development project at Portofino. The development, utilizing twelve acres of land to the east of the resort, is slated to break ground in 2017 and deliver more breathtaking accommodations and world-class amenities and facilities, including a $10 million conference center. Of course, Portofino always aims to impress with our resort amenities and adventures— even if you only have a weekend to enjoy them all. In “Life Is Good Today,” you’ll discover some of the things you can do in just a few days at Portofino. From relaxing with a drink at Cobalt and taking Portofino I to the Boardwalk for dinner and shopping on a Friday evening through numerous Saturday activities and a Sunday picnic brunch at Fort Pickens, find out how you can put together the perfect blend of exploration and relaxation during your stay.

Throughout the pages of the magazine, you’ll also discover some of the unique gems that make this destination unlike any other on the Gulf Coast; these include the vibrant downtown scene in nearby Pensacola, the treasure of live theatre and professional opera experiences, and Naval Air Station Pensacola—home of our beloved Blue Angels and the National Naval Aviation Museum. Closer to Portofino, we highlight the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk and the Premier-owned businesses there: Envie Boutique, Salty Beach Outfitters, and Cactus Flower Cafe. Located on Quietwater Beach and just a short cruise away aboard the Portofino I, our Boardwalk venues round out the complete shopping and dining experience for any stay. As a Premier Club guest, you enjoy a special discount at each of these spots, as well as the other perks that come along with booking your stay through us. In our last issue, my wife, Sabine Laguna, graced the pages of the magazine in an Envie Boutique fashion editorial that captured her radiant beauty and incredible sense of style. In June 2012, Sabine was diagnosed with brain cancer and went on to fight a courageous two-year battle against the disease. This edition features a tribute to her enduring spirit and style that live on through our daughters, Zoë and Sofie. We dedicate this magazine to Sabine, and we recognize her vision for Premier Island Management Group as its cofounder and her impact on the lives of those who knew and loved her.


General Manager and CEO



SOUNDSIDE MARKET 5 Via De Luna Dr., Pensacola Beach, FL 32561

RENTALS • BIKE REPAIRS WE DELIVER! 850.916.4386 Open Daily at 9 a.m.

Bikes Funny Cars Kayaks Surf Boards Paddleboards Umbrellas Scooters Chairs


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PIZZA DELIVERY serving the public since 1948 • Authentic/Homemade Thin Crust Happy Hour: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Hours of Operation: 4 p.m. – Until Closed Monday

INSPIRED SOUTHERN STYLE. Simple good food from local ingredients. We invite you to relax and enjoy friends and family and the waterfront view in our backyard. 11 a.m. – After Dinner


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Life Is Good Today With sunshine in the forecast and your weekend free of chores, the warm salt air and emerald-green waters of the Gulf beckon an escape to Portofino. With just a few days to experience all that the resort has to offer, what’s the best way to make your weekend a delicious blend of rest and recreation? We’ve got a few suggestions that might spark your adventurous side, inspire your next Portofino getaway, and have you feeling that “life is good today.”



Toast the Coast / 4 p.m. First stop: Cobalt Bar for a refreshing arrival drink. Order the Portofino Punch, an island-inspired rum concoction. After all, when in Rome … Sail Away / 5 p.m. Cruise over to Pensacola Beach Boardwalk via Portofino I, the resort’s sixty-three-foot catamaran. The breezy, twenty-minute voyage through the Santa Rosa Sound offers a breathtaking view of the island, and it’s the perfect way to sit back and let someone else do the driving. Enjoy a drink on board and let the vacation vibes soothe you. The Boardwalk is buzzing on weekend nights. Live music fills the air and street entertainers line the wooden walkways of this beachside shopping and dining destination. Taking a picture at the iconic Shell in the center of the Boardwalk is a must, as is a little shopping jaunt at Envie Boutique. A local favorite, Envie is known for its blend of bohemian chic fashions and preppy Southern style. The friendly staff is more than willing to help you find something to wear during your weekend getaway. Across from Envie, you’ll find Cactus Flower Cafe. The eatery serves authentic Mexican cuisine with contemporary California influences, which are healthier and somewhat lighter than traditional south-of-theborder fare. Also, since everything is made fresh to order, whatever you see on the menu will be prepared just as you request. Every item—from the tortilla soup to the quesadillas—is satisfyingly filling, but you can lighten up or load on extras. When considering your options, make sure you get some beans. Owner Lee Kafeety learned from her aunt that diners usually dig their forks into their beans before tasting any other food on the plate, but all her sides are consistently delicious.

Bicycle, Bicycle / 6:45 a.m. Get up and get going. A morning bike ride or run along the Gulf Islands National Seashore is the perfect way to clear your mind and reconnect with the glorious natural surroundings of Portofino. Go on your own or meet other bikers at the Adventure Depot for a guided tour of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The hiking trails and bike paths make exploring the seashore a comfortable experience. Keep your eyes open for other early birds—namely, egrets and herons. If you usually listen to music when riding or running, consider removing those earbuds in order to hear the birds and the surf. Slip Away to the Spa / 9 a.m. After your ride, you’ll be ready for a cooldown and some spa pampering. Nothing beats a couple’s massage under a private canopy beside the quiet waters of the Santa Rosa Sound. (Please BYO husband, wife, partner, or significant other!) Toes in the Sand / 11 a.m. Acclimating to the activities around you, go with the flow and head to the beach. Umbrellas and chairs are as plentiful as the sugar-white sands; they’re also a complimentary amenity for Premier Club guests. When the mood to move strikes, take advantage of the water toys. An air mattress fits the bill if you’re still not quite ready to get vertical. Or, try a YOLO paddleboard and navigate the waves. 18


T he variety and combinations of activities at Portofino create so many possibilities that no two days or vacation experiences would ever need to be the same.

At some point, you’ll realize the switch has been flicked to full-fledged vacation mode. Idle there—meaning, just wave someone over to take your order. Request drinks, snacks, or even a delicious lunch; everything is delivered directly to your beach chair. Head Downtown / 6 p.m. Just a quick twenty-minute drive from Portofino, downtown Pensacola retains the laid-back vibe of the beach while delivering big-city amenities and activities. Popular Palafox Street is peppered with unique locally owned shops and eateries as well as museums, art galleries, and music venues. Gallery Night, hosted the third Friday of every month, showcases local artisans, musicians, and cuisine throughout the brickpaved streets of downtown. Portofino offers a Palafox Hop excursion on Gallery Night, bringing guests to and from downtown in the comfort of its luxury limo bus, the Experience.

Sometimes a taste of beach life is all you need to renew your spirit until you can return again.

A Different Side of the Beach / 9 a.m. Before you depart, explore Pensacola Beach’s historic side with a trip to Fort Pickens. Believed by many to be a ghostly monument, the fort played roles in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World Wars I and II and served as a prison for the historic Apache leader Geronimo and his fellow warriors. Beautiful brick archways, built to support the weight of the battlements above, make a distinctive backdrop for vacation pictures. Bring a picnic and enjoy brunch in the surrounding park’s picnic area before you head back home. The variety and combinations of activities at Portofino create so many possibilities that no two days or vacation experiences would ever need to be the same. The key is to make your stay what you want it to be. You set the pace and the schedule—or the lack thereof. Regardless of your time frame or agenda, life is better at the beach. And, sometimes a taste of beach life is all you need to renew your spirit until you can return again.

Visit to start planning your long weekend!



Garden Street FabricS & deSiGn Fabrics • Furniture • Lighting • Design • Upholstery • Slip covers Draperies • Custom Bedding • Wall papers • Headboards Ottomans • Blinds • Rugs • Accessories

200 East Garden Street Pensacola, Florida • 850.733.0204 148 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida • 850.362.7277




CALL WILD of the By Anne W. Schultz Photography by David Moynahan

A yearning for outdoor adventure must be in our DNA.


hy else would we scale Mount Everest, ski black-diamond slopes, raft treacherous white-water rapids, or bungee jump? “Adventure is something that has an uncertain outcome,” says Jack Sanborn, founder and owner of Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center just north of Milton, Florida—about a one-hour drive from Portofino Island Resort. His definition for adventure could also apply to life experiences. Perhaps the challenges of an outdoor adventure develop character traits like courage, resiliency, and endurance: just what we need for overcoming the difficulties life hurls our way. Or maybe it builds the self-confidence required to take risks, to venture out into new frontiers where we expand and grow. The best way to answer these questions for yourself is to do just that—jump in, take a risk, and find out. Sanborn feels it makes life itself a more thrilling adventure as he still remembers the joy in exploring the wilds of North Central Florida around Gainesville as a young boy. “I grew up around nature. My uncle and grandfather built the first nature trail at Alexander Springs in Ocala Forest,” he says. “Our family spent free time hiking and camping.” He recalls the freedom of playing outdoors all day without adult supervision. “We made up our own games and rules. Friends and I explored creeks and woods on our own, encountering all kinds of wild creatures like alligators and snakes. Parents didn’t expect to see their kids home until dinnertime.



“Today’s children don’t have that same kind of freedom, with their tightly structured and overly supervised schedules. They spend free time mostly indoors glued to computers and other electronic devices. Children are mainly spectators of adventure, experiencing it vicariously by staring at video games or action-packed TV programs or movies. I’d like to see kids participate in the real thing, where the heart starts thumping, adrenaline surges, and you feel an endorphin rush. It’s a thrill you never forget.” So, when Sanborn retired as a helicopter instructor at Whiting Field near Milton, it became his mission to get kids and adults outdoors. “During active duty, I’d been looking for something for retirement where I could work outdoors, work with people, and be my own boss,” he explains. “Creating an outdoor adventure center satisfied all those needs and helped people get back into the wilds again. Its unlikely adults will head out for outdoor adventures if they didn’t experience those activities as a child. Here we not only build memories, but also create future environmentalists.” 26


“Here we not only build memories, but also create future environmentalists.”

– Jack Sanborn

Sanborn didn’t want anything resembling an amusement park ride. “When you go on an amusement ride at Disney, millions have gone before you and everyone knows exactly what to expect. But paddle a kayak down a wild river or fly free as a bird on a zip line over treetops and you have no idea what to expect,” he exclaims. He couldn’t have been stationed near a more advantageous site for an outdoor center than the dense forest and meandering creeks he discovered bordering Blackwater River State Forest. The region is described by the Nature Conservancy as “one of the most biologically rich areas in the United States.” The forest hosts three hundred species of birds and 2,500 species of plants, for starters. It is part of the largest contiguous longleaf pine forest in the world, a type of forest that once blanketed the entire southeastern United States. Now only 3 percent remains.

He bought some property as a Marine flight student and later added more when he returned to the base as a helicopter instructor. Upon retirement he opened Adventures Unlimited for full operation in 1976. Today, this unique place attracts over 45,000 visitors a year from all over the United States and many foreign countries. “We are completely unplugged,” says Sanborn with pride. “No telephones, no TVs, no clocks or radios. There is nothing to connect with except yourself and others. “Here people actually talk to each other face to face,” he laughs. “On many family vacations, people go their separate ways. Dads play golf. Moms shop. Not much interaction goes on. But here they are all brought together in one activity in one place. They all work together

Creek right on the property. Or if you wish to explore further, pick up directions and a map for major area trails at the office. These include the Juniper Creek Trail (a segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail), the Jackson Red Ground Trail (a twenty-one-mile forest trail tracing an early trade route used by Native Americans and settlers), and the Sweetwater Trail, which originates at either Krul Lake or Bear Lake. Several years ago, Sanborn read an enlightening book that validates the importance of his work that brings people, especially children, back into nature. Recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal and expert child advocate Richard Louv wrote the book Last Child in the Woods about children’s disconnection from nature. That disconnect results in what he calls “nature deficit disorder,” which is linked to rising trends of obesity, attention disorders, and depression. A video on the book’s website reminds us that children have played outdoors since prehistory; this is the first generation that spends more time indoors than out. It’s the first book to report the new and alarming research that “confirms a direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.”

paddling down the river, and if the canoe turns over, everyone pitches in to right it. These shared experiences are topics of family conversations for many years to come.” With the Blackwater River and its tributaries of Coldwater, Sweetwater, and Juniper Creeks offering so many miles of canoe trails, along with Adventures Unlimited’s extensive services, Sanborn coined the nickname “Canoe Capital of Florida” to describe it. And he initiated the process with state legislators to make the title official. Paddle down Coldwater Creek on a sunny fall day when you have the river all to yourself and you’ll see why. Sunshine glints on water colored golden amber from the tannins leached from decomposed vegetation. The water sparkles like a topaz jewel as it travels over a whitesand bottom mostly free of vegetation. Only a few feet deep, the water is exceptionally clean and clear because the Conecuh National Forest north of the river in Alabama means no development or agricultural activities interfere with the water’s purity. Coldwater is swift and narrow enough, and has enough obstructions

like cypress knees and fallen logs, that navigating it keeps you challenged and alert. Even so, it’s still easy and fun for all levels to traverse. Wide sandbars tempt paddlers to pull over for a picnic lunch, take a break, or cool off with a refreshing swim. Adventures Unlimited provides a fleet of two hundred fifty canoes, a hundred kayaks, five hundred tubes, and ten stand-up paddleboards to ensure everyone gets on the water during the peak summer season. Visitors from sixty-eight countries have gone on the Zip Adventures Canopy Tour since it opened in 2010. They zoom over treetops and above Coldwater Creek on a mile of zip lines forty feet in the air spread over fifteen platforms for an unbeatable aerial thrill. The high and low rope challenge course is one of the finest in the southeastern United States. In case you’re tired of floating or flying sky-high, come down to earth and stretch your legs on one of the hikes around the region. A three-mile interpretive nature trail winds along Wolfe

Those who already love being outdoors will savor more opportunities at Adventures Unlimited, while those who are estranged will soon feel right at home again. After all, nature is our home. It’s the beautiful earth God created for all living creatures to share. Renewing that ancient bond with earth restores joy and a sense of wonder in children. In his book, Louv writes often about wonder “the source of spirituality.” Sanborn reassures us that once children get out on the river, they absolutely love it. “And later on, they want to protect it,” he adds. “As it seems you only protect what you love.”

“These shared experiences are topics of family conversations for many years to come.” – Jack Sanborn



This affinity for nature appears to be an instinctual part of us, as Louv asserts, “We are genetically wired to be in nature.” Prominent American scientist E.O. Wilson coined the word biophilia to express the innate love of life he believes is implanted in all people. Thanks to people like Sanborn, Wilson, and Louv—along with a growing international movement to get people outdoors—the future looks brighter for children and also for nature, as it will be in the hands of those who have been touched by a wild river or shady forest. Could it be that God placed an innate love of life and a need for nature in our hearts so we not only value and preserve it, but also allow it to thrive and flourish?

Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center is open year-round for river excursions, zip line and ropes course adventures, and more fun activities for the whole family. Visit or call (850) 623-6197 for reservations or more information. Visit to learn more about his book Last Child in the Woods.

Lilly Pulitzer Sail to Sable Julie Brown AG Denim Three Dots Jude Connally Elliott Lauren Finley

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Historic Downtown 212 South Alcaniz St. Pensacola, Florida 850 - 696 - 1264






few years ago, when Joe Sinkovich and his wife, Alicia, decided to settle in Pensacola with their young son and daughter, they fell in love with a house built in 1918. The place needed work, but they were fully committed to restoring the fixer-upper. When the renovations began, Joe was a sales and marketing executive designing orthopedic equipment for an orthopedic implant manufacturer and he traveled extensively. Therefore, Jimmy and Dusty McGraw, a father-and-son team who specialized in historic preservation, were in charge. Considering that the structure was nearly a hundred years old, Joe anticipated some surprises along the way. When checking on the job’s progress one day, he encountered a twenty-foot-by-twenty-foot hole in the front wall. The sight of the hole was not remarkable, but the pile of rotten wood would ultimately send Joe on a journey—one that would totally reframe his world and quite a few others’. It all began when Jimmy revealed that the damaged boards were from a 1970s addition. “The home’s original heart pine and cypress,” Joe explains, “were beautiful and seemingly untouched.”Thus, Joe asked Jimmy to rebuild the section with hearty old woods that matched the rest of the house. The straightforward remedy, however, presented a challenge: Jimmy had no sources for procuring antique lumber.

Opening Image: Media center of authentic antique heart pine, hand painted and aged Opposite Page: 72-inch round table of authentic antique heart pine with complex-miter base, finished with walnut stain and hand


The old-growth heart pine and cypress that Joe desired comes from massive trees that stood for centuries. Maturing slowly beneath a thick forest canopy, the old giants developed intricate rings and extremely hard cores. Their high resin content further makes such woods resistant to damaging insects, which is why the end products—from barns to beds—have endured over time. For many reasons, Joe’s favorite wood is Southern heart pine. “Straight and strong, it’s incredibly versatile,” he says. “The most common tree used in ship masts during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the longleaf pine built the Southeast.” Many question his preference for pine because they are accustomed to the lumber currently harvested from eighteen-year-old trees grown on farms.


However, the young, soft wood, which easily warps when exposed to the elements, cannot be compared to four-hundred-year-old pine cut from the heart of the tree. Despite clear advantages, the ancient wood comes with a price. From the mid-1800s to the 1930s, logging companies throughout the South took the trees by clear-cutting ninety million acres of irreplaceable virgin forests. Preservation laws help protect what remains, so users must rely on previously harvested old wood. Since supplies are limited and often difficult to retrieve, the material can be expensive. Unaware of how much time and money he would invest to find and buy the preferred wood, Joe was undeterred. “I’m inquisitive and willing to make mistakes,” he says, indicating that in over twenty years of consulting with surgeons to meet their precise requirements, he has grown accustomed to researching and addressing complex matters. “If we’ve got a problem, my job is to find a solution fast,” Joe states. While still working full-time in medical sales, Joe says, “I started calling builders for leads. None of them had suggestions, so I contacted some of the local cabinet shops and then people who specialized in renovating old houses.” Two months later, he located the wood. “Twenty-five people in the Southeast buy old lumber,” Joe says. Much of it comes from old buildings—barns, houses, factories, etc.—as well as from riverbeds. Interestingly, the timbers recovered from Florida’s rivers are among an approximate 10 percent that loggers lost during the heydays. Every piece has a history; the logs are even branded, identifying the logging companies of yesteryear. “From the start, I wanted to understand the origins of the wood and my role in its preservation,” says Joe, who vividly recalls the first time he went to a retrieval site. “We removed flooring from a textile plant in Alabama. Covered in dirt, I walked outside and met a man standing there with his little boy. He said, ‘Son, if I could tell you the number of times I walked across these floors!’ He had worked in that factory fortyseven years, so the old floor meant something to him—it represented the place that was central to his life and town. It occurred to me then that we save a piece of history every time we reclaim a piece of wood.” Nostalgia comes with the job, but business is business. “Old wood doesn’t mean it is always good wood or workable wood,” Joe says. Citing factors like nails, paint, creosote, and even natural decay, he adds, “We’ll lose 30 percent of any log or reclaimed material.” The “we” he refers to is Armored Frog, the company Joe founded three years ago while becoming an old-wood specialist. Procuring the lumber for his house highlighted opportunities for processing boards and making distinctive furniture. “Few suppliers are equipped to process the material,” he says, “and the majority of high-end heart pine and cypress is used for flooring and paneling, not furniture.” Working initially from a shed, James, who went along with Joe, began building planter boxes and tables. Purposely choosing an esoteric name




Above left: Dining table of riverrecovered cypress, finished with a low-sheen varnish Above right: Trestle table of authentic antique heart pine, finished in weathered grey, aged, and sealed with a proprietary varnish and wax process


for the company, Joe pays tribute to the durability of the planter, crafted to contain the dirt (as he describes, “like an armored box”) and protect the vegetation. Likewise, the insect-eating frog is acknowledged as a friend of the tree and a welcome garden dweller. Today, Armored Frog inhabits a 26,000-squarefoot warehouse that resides on more than five acres of land. Joe fulfills multiple functions within the company—designing, selling, and managing the company—and employs a professional team of designers, craftsmen, and artisans. Jimmy is the production manager and a senior craftsman. Accordingly, the company has an estimated year’s worth of raw inventory in stock to meet a flourishing niche market’s demand for handcrafted old-wood tables, desks, and media centers. Styles range from rustic to modern.


More than seeking a certain look, Joe’s discriminating customer wants authenticity. That kind of buyer doesn’t think twice about paying $3,000 to $5,000 for a custom table. Most, in fact, are working with designers who have led them to Armored Frog. Presently, approximately a hundred designers throughout the country refer their clients to Joe. Understandably, expectations run high, but Joe and his team are the most discerning of all. The company’s motto, “Nothing leaves the shop unless it’s perfect,” stands without question. About 90 percent of Armored Frog’s output is custom ordered, usually with a designer’s input. The average lead time is twelve weeks. “For the right price, we can stop everything to finish a piece in ten days,” says Joe, “but if it’s not perfect, I tell the designer to call the client and say it’s not ready. I’d rather return the money to an impatient buyer than have someone find a flaw, even if that happened a year or two later.” To avoid mistakes, Joe first creates a footprint template on butcher paper that the customer can position in the space intended for the furniture. “They give me dimensions, but 50 percent of the time they realize the piece

Photo by Gerald Burwell

would be too big,” he says. Various finishing options—paint, stain, oil rub— also require some thought. “They want to match the rest of the room,” Joe says, “so color is important.” To gain ideas or to purchase an item in stock, some customers, accompanied by their designers, visit the warehouse. “They often end up staying for hours,” says Joe.

that a handful of production managers in charge of high-quality, solid wood furniture operations provided all the insights he needed. “I asked them questions like what kind of glue were they using,” he says.

The equipment in action can be as mesmerizing as the array of finished furniture. Like the old wood, the machines are vintage and built to last. “Today’s standard saws are fine for cutting particleboard and veneers,” says Joe, “but not hardwood. My old saws are made of cast iron and weigh up to 4,500 pounds.” They also accomplish the job. Joe points to a 1973 Robinson resaw that can reduce a beam sixteen inches high by eighteen inches wide to furniture-grade boards within thirty minutes.

While willing to share their expertise and applauding Joe’s intentions to manufacture in the United States, they told him he’d never succeed by producing here. “The furniture plants in North Carolina, once the heart of furniture manufacturing, are shutting down and moving overseas,” says Joe. In addition to causing unemployment, that strategy, he believes, has left voids within the US high-end furniture market. Joe is happy to fill both gaps.

Exhibiting extensive knowledge after three years in the business, Joe says, “You have to know where to find the right information with the right amount of time and money.” After visiting “every cabinet shop in Pensacola,” he turned to furniture manufacturers for guidance. Attending trade shows in Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and High Point, Joe claims

Above: Armored Frog owner and founder, Joe Sinkovich, with his cherished hardwoods stacked for optimum preservation



gifts and accessories since 1967 Wooden plates | Vietri | Mariposa | Caspari | LafCo Candles Crane | Baby Gifts | Stationery | Linens | Lamps

Located in beautiful Downtown Pensacola 242 West Garden Street Pensacola, Florida 32502 850.433.4001 hours: Monday through Saturday 10 until 5 Find us on

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“The one thing a successful person can do is to give others the opportunity to do well in life,” says Joe, an advocate for creating jobs. “My goal is to employ as many people as humanly possible. It’s so rewarding to train and develop people to make a living and to look back and say, ‘Look what we made.’ At the Armored Frog, it just so happens that we make furniture.” Armored Frog is a design, build, and finish studio. “We work closely with designers throughout the US to build one-of-a-kind pieces,” Joe adds. “Designers view us as a resource to help them deliver something special to their clients.”







EXPERIENCE Many people are surprised to learn that Portofino Island Resort has a stunningly beautiful sister property, Beach Club Resort and Spa, just 3.6 miles to the west on the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Although different in many respects, Beach Club and Portofino share a connection to Robert Rinke and the late Allen Levin, who conceived and developed both resorts. With that understanding, those who know Portofino quickly realize why Beach Club—comprising ninetytwo luxury condominiums, a twelve-thousand-square-foot spa and fitness center, and a glorious outdoor pool by the beach—possesses so many remarkable features.





Located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, Beach Club is what Rinke describes as a “work of art.” From the outside looking in, the twenty-one-floor resort, graced with solid concrete balustrades, presents an air of refinement and quality. Once inside the gated community, countless hidden jewels delight even the most discriminating, well-traveled guest. Each privately owned condominium, for instance, presents a sophisticated style with all the comforts of home: a top-ofthe-line gourmet kitchen, a spa-inspired master bath with step-in shower and deep whirlpool tub, a large salon made for entertaining, a full-size washer and dryer, and elegant fixtures and finishes throughout. Moreover, providing 1,614 to 1,950 square feet of living area, Beach Club’s open, airy three- and four-bedroom residences compare in size to many high-end urban condos, but with better scenery and many ways to take it all in. Optimizing the location’s advantages, floor-to-ceiling windows and generous balconies (complete with built-in cook centers) overlook the breathtaking Emerald Coast.







“Quite a few of our owners initially buy with the idea of acquiring a vacation home or investment property,” says Rinke. “Before long, however, they realize nothing beats living here, so they end up relocating permanently or staying a good portion of the year.”

“This is a $10 million spa and fitness facility,” Rinke remarks. “You just don’t see that kind of investment for a ninety-two-unit condominium, and you definitely won’t find the same value elsewhere. We could never replicate Beach Club for anything close to our original costs.”

Even those who aren’t easily impressed openly admit that Beach Club’s amenities are amazing. Aqua, the resort’s spa for owners, guests, and visitors (by appointment), features soft and sleek white leather seating amid soothing aromas, quiet lighting, and trickling waterfalls—all indications of the exquisite treatments to come. Along with professional services, Aqua also provides a dry sauna, steam rooms, showers, and lockers.

For the best possible Beach Club experience, Rinke encourages guests to make their reservations through Premier Island Management Group for access to its Premier Club benefits. These include seasonal specials, a discounts at Aqua Spa, access to the fitness center and the indoor pool, and complimentary beach chair and umbrella setup each day. Other Premier exclusives are discounts from Premier-owned Pensacola Beach Boardwalk shops and restaurants that partner with Premier, complimentary dolphin cruises on Portofino I, and a daily complimentary round of golf.

The adjoining fitness center, available only to Beach Club’s owners and guests, offers Cybex and Lifecycle equipment, free weights, fitness classes, an indoor lap pool, and whirlpools. Personal entertainment systems help keep solo workouts on track, although views of the sand and water through floor-toceiling windows may be more entrancing. Also impressive is the outdoor lagoon pool surrounded by a beautiful cobblestone deck that opens to the beach.

For all other needs and desires, a five-star concierge service is also available to Beach Club owners and guests. “People who have been owners or guests of Portofino and Beach Club absolutely feel the connection between the two resorts,” says Rinke. “However, they appreciate the distinctions and prefer one or the other for various reasons. That’s why I say, by all means, visit both and see which suits your lifestyle—or certain times in your life.”



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ANGELS IN FLIGHT Pens a c ol a’s M o s t Ce l e b r at e d Pi l o t s Story and photography by Bill Weckel

Known as one of the world’s preeminent aerobatic teams, the US Navy’s Blue Angels are, at their core, much more. They are the Navy’s ambassadors. Performing for eleven million spectators in more than seventy airshows at thirty-four locations throughout the United States each year, they are the face of the US Navy. Officially known as the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the squadron was named the Blue Angels when one of its pilots stumbled upon a mention of the Blue Angel Nightclub in The New Yorker magazine. The name stuck, and the rest is history. The story of the Blue Angels starts in 1946, just after the Second World War. After defeating the Axis powers in a two-ocean war, the US Navy was (and still is) the largest and most powerful naval force in history. Four years of costly war, however, had exhausted the nation, both financially and in terms of morale. Conscious of the rapid drawdown in defense spending and aware of the looming Cold War, the Navy looked for a way to maintain public support and awareness. America’s fascination with aviation was at an all-time high, and the answer was clear: a traveling aerobatic team. Admiral Chester Nimitz issued an order to form a flight exhibition squadron that would sustain the public’s interest in the Navy and

demonstrate the power of naval aviation. The Blue Angels were born. Initially flying the Grumman F6F Hellcat—the most successful fighter of World War II—the squadron practiced in secret over the Florida Everglades, perfecting its routines. Homeported at Jacksonville, Florida, the team wowed spectators at its fifteenminute debut performance. Public perception was overwhelmingly positive, and the Navy knew it had struck pay dirt. Over the next sixty years, the Blue Angels continued to captivate audiences with performance routines that were continuously refined and increasingly complex, featuring lowlevel maneuvers and tight formation flying. The squadron moved to several bases before permanently settling at NAS Pensacola in 1954. Throughout their history, the Blue Angels have flown the Navy’s current frontline fighter planes. As naval aviation developed and fielded new fighters, the Blue Angels were equipped accordingly. Today, the Blue Angels



fly the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet— the Navy’s sole tactical fighter/attack aircraft. The Hornet was first deployed to the fleet in the late 1980s, supplementing and then gradually replacing both the F-14 Tomcat fighter and the A-6 Intruder attack aircraft. The Hornet has seen combat in the Persian Gulf War, Kosovo, and the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. A battle-tested and successful warplane, the F-18 equips both Navy and Marine Corps fighter squadrons and serves in the air forces of Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland. While the Hornet still serves in frontline Navy and Marine Corps squadrons, the aircraft that the Blue Angels fly are actually retired fleet aircraft. They are not “worn out,” but their airframes can no longer sustain the violent impacts and stresses that are associated with the catapult launches and arrested landings of the Navy’s aircraft carriers. These “war-weary” aircraft are modified for air show use; the 20mm cannon is replaced by a smoke generator, the gun sight is removed, the fuel pump is inverted, and modifications are made to the aircraft’s controls, allowing for the precision movements that are required during aerobatic flight. Most visible, however, is the aircraft’s new glossy blue-andgold paint scheme. The squadron is made up of more than a hundred experienced aviators and support personnel from both the Navy and Marine Corps. Selection for the squadron is highly competitive and rigorous; the commanding officer, who flies the lead aircraft, must have more than three thousand flight hours, while the remaining six F-18 aviators must have at least twelve hundred flight hours each. New aviator applicants are reviewed by current team members, who vote in secret, and the vote to induct a new team member must be unanimous. In addition to the Hornet, the squadron operates a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, which is piloted by a Marine Corps aircrew. Known as Fat Albert, the Hercules is capable of rocket-assisted takeoff and performs a short-field operations routine at air shows. 48


A Blue Angels demonstration flight consists of more than thirty thrilling aerobatic maneuvers that are performed by six aircraft at both high and low speeds.




A Blue Angels demonstration flight consists of more than thirty thrilling aerobatic maneuvers that are performed by six aircraft at both high and low speeds. Four of the aircraft fly in a tight diamond formation, while two aircraft fly solo maneuvers. Either a “high show” or a “low show” routine is performed, depending on local weather conditions and visibility. The Blue Angels show schedule generally includes two shows in Pensacola each year: the Pensacola Beach Air Show at Pensacola Beach in July and the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola in November. In addition to these shows, the team practices regularly at NAS Pensacola on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during the show season. The public is invited to attend the practice sessions, which are followed by an opportunity to meet the pilots for autographs.

For more information and a current show schedule, visit


Historic Pensacola Pensacola’s sugar-white beach is just the beginning. Come experience the rest of our rich heritage.

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BODACIOUS about Downtown Pensacola By Sallie W. Boyles Photography by Cheryl Casey



Bringing a smile to the lips, the word bodacious speaks volumes. Along with saying that something is remarkable and bold, the adjective further conveys the exuberance of the person who chooses such an expressive word. Without question, bodacious aptly describes one of downtown Pensacola’s most recently cultivated businesses, The Bodacious Olive, as well as the store’s founders. Tucked away at the iconic corner of Palafox and Main Streets in downtown Pensacola is a little something for everyone. With an olive oil store, a coffee shop, a kitchenware store, and a chopped salad bar all in one epicurean market, what more could the downtown shopper and diner want? The Bodacious Olive, the Bodacious Brew, SoGourmet, the Wine Shop at SoGourmet, and SoChopped together make up the Bodacious Family of Shops.

soon live, SoGo and the rest of downtown Pensacola credit the early adaptors—bold business owners who moved into abandoned spaces—as well as philanthropic investors, namely Rishy and Quint Studer, for breathing new life into an area that not so long ago seemed lost to the past.

Quint and Rishy Studer, owners of the shops, say that their vision was to build a place where people could shop, learn, and experience great coffee, food, wine, and kitchenware. “We want the Bodacious Family of Shops to feel like home for our customers,” says Rishy, “as if they were visiting an old friend or going to a family reunion. We love to cook together, share recipes, share a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and we want our customers to feel that way too.”

Like many cities, Pensacola’s downtown fell into decline when businesses and homeowners moved to outlying neighborhoods. Hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Dennis in 2005 could have hastened the destructive path, but the Studers endeavored to turn the tide.

The Bodacious Olive will entertain your senses and captivate your palate with an array of the finest artisanal olive oils and balsamic vinegars on the market. The Bodacious Olive also offers gourmet salts and handmade pastas and sauces. Having awakened their customers’ taste buds, the Studers also opened SoChopped, a chopped salad bar overflowing with garden-fresh selections, and the Bodacious Brew, a coffee shop that offers a variety of the best coffees, teas, and freshly made baked goods. Right upstairs is SoGourmet, a place committed to the joys of cooking and entertaining— from cooktop to tabletop. Customers can shop for unique culinary tools, cookware, and table settings, and they can also book private events or sign up for SoGourmet’s weekly cooking classes and demonstrations. For wine lovers and wine learners, the Wine Shop at SoGourmet is the place to be, offering wine classes and daily tastings of wine selections from around the world.

“Traveling, I would see vibrant downtowns,” says Quint, who is known worldwide as the founder of the Studer Group, a private health-care consulting company he founded in 1999 after serving as president of Baptist Hospital in Pensacola. By 2002, Modern Healthcare, the health-care industry’s go-to resource, named Studer one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful”

Incidentally, “So” is short for South—a nod to the SoGo District. Nicknamed by the merchants, SoGo, a colloquial for “south of Government,” refers to a stretch along Pensacola’s historic Palafox Street that begins south of Government Street. Evolving as the place to shop, dine, work, and POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016


“We’ve always known what an incredibly beautiful and historically interesting place this is, but the Studers have made my job of marketing to tourists easier.” in the field. In 2004, the Studer Group’s success, based upon instilling accountability and measuring results, caught the attention of Gallup CEO Jim Clifton. “As Jim and I got to know one another,” explains Quint, “he shared a study of why some cities grow and some don’t.” Gallup found that a flourishing downtown contains various components, starting with something to attract a high number of people to the area. “Office buildings will follow,” Quint says. Residential comes next, as people decide they like where they work and want to live close by. “Most of the time retail comes last,” he continues, “because people won’t invest unless they know the business can be viable. Since 2004, we have been putting these little pieces together for downtown Pensacola.” 54


Certain pieces would be significant, like the main attraction—the baseball stadium. Yielding incredible sunsets on the bay and earning accolades like Ballpark of the Year from, the Pensacola Bayfront Stadium is home to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a Double-A baseball team the Studers also purchased and now co-own with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson. Consequently, Quint proclaims, “Each year over the past three, we’ve drawn over three hundred thousand fans to downtown. On seventy nights per year, we have over four thousand people coming to downtown.” While the stadium was under construction, the Studers knew they had to address the neighboring vacant buildings and lots. “How

could we attract investors if they came downtown and saw that?” Quint poses. Thus, the Studers began buying up partially empty and abandoned properties, including the building occupied by The Bodacious Olive. By restoring existing buildings, the Studers preserve Pensacola’s cultural history; by investing in people, they foster a new generation of entrepreneurs. The acclaimed Five Sisters Blues Café, for instance, celebrated for its Southern comfort food, occupies a building with historically significant ties to Pensacola’s African-American music industry. Likewise, renovations and affordable rents have helped launch a floral shop, a hair salon, and Carmen’s Lunch Bar.

Before opening its doors, Carmen’s already had a fan base, having won the Pensacola Business Challenge, a new business initiative both conceived and sponsored by the Studers. Offering a $50,000 prize (subsidized rent and capital), the competition required applicants to complete a business plan with the help of the University of West Florida’s College of Business. “One hundred people attended the first meeting,” says Quint. In the end, thirty-three business plans were submitted and judged by local businesspeople. With a solid plan in hand, other participants have also launched their dreams. Many more have attended the nonprofit Studer Community Institute’s leadership seminars, which help prepare entrepreneurs and nonprofits for the challenges ahead. “The Studers have given talented people so many more avenues through which to express themselves,” says Brooke Fleming, a Pensacola native and communications manager for Visit Pensacola. As it so happens, she also worked in sports broadcasting for the Wahoos upon returning to her hometown in 2010 after graduating college. “I’ve been awarded so many opportunities, thanks to them.” In addition to fostering downtown business growth, the Studers are tackling the housing component, primarily by taking advantage of idle space in the Pensacola News Journal building, which sits on nearly six acres, to construct between 200 and 260 affordable residential apartments. Although high-end condos are going into other buildings above retail space, the Studers contend that the heart of a city must be viable for all. “We can’t just have wealthy people in condos,” says Quint. Yet another project, Maritime Place, entails a 77,000-square-foot office building, the first of its kind in thirty years. “We’ll add 250 employees to downtown Pensacola and generate $250,000 more in property tax revenue,” Quint proclaims. “People should know that we didn’t just buy office buildings to make money off the rent. Investing in private businesses that will make a difference is what Rishy and I do. We like watching people have a better quality of life.” “We’ve always known what an incredibly beautiful and historically interesting place this is,” says Brooke, “but the Studers have made my job of marketing to tourists easier. People of all ages and interests want to spend time here because there’s so much to do. Also, one of the great things about downtown Pensacola,” she adds, “is that all of this is within walking distance. Because everything is so close, you need only one parking spot, and if you arrive in the evening, parking is free.” As the pieces come together, the Studers know from experience that success results from instilling structures that hold people accountable. “We always tell the middle managers in health-care organizations that they are the solution,” Quint says. “They stay, but executives come and go.” For similar reasons, the Studers invest in private businesses—the stakeholders who are committed to long-term success—rather than politicians. Belief in the human spirit certainly influences their commitment. Before entering health-care management, Quint, who is hearing impaired, was a special education teacher. “I learned to maximize the potential in others,” he says. Now sober for thirty years, he also battled alcoholism, and his ability to turn his life around has given him empathy for others. “You learn to believe in people,” he confides, “even when they’re not doing so well.” If the Studers and others continue to be bodacious about downtown Pensacola, people from all walks of life should do quite well there.





stablished in 2001 as a result of what owner Lee Kafeety describes as “a necessity and a passion for food,” Cactus Flower Cafe offers California-style Mexican cuisine, featuring fresh, healthy ingredients—no animal fats or refried items. Growing up as the daughter of Mexican American parents, Lee enjoyed traditional recipes with her family, which inspired her contemporary signature dishes at Cactus Flower. Above all, her aunt Carmen instilled in Lee a love of cooking and the celebration of food. “She was passionate about fresh food,” says Lee, “and taught me everything I know—from the presentation to the joy that comes with eating. Food is a pleasure, and it should be beautiful, delicious, and festive.” Success proves that diners appreciate Lee’s philosophy and her cuisine. Flourishing at Pensacola Beach Boardwalk since 2013, Cactus Flower Cafe has two other Pensacola locations, as well as restaurants in Navarre Beach, Florida; Dothan and Gulf Shores, Alabama; and Valdosta, Georgia; along with a sister restaurant, Cafe Capistrano, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Maintaining a hands-on approach, Lee says, “I don’t do much cooking anymore, but I’m in the restaurants every day, tasting and watching.” Since she cannot be in all places at once, Lee asserts that “people who believe the same as I do about being exceptional” are in charge. Several employees have

been with her since the beginning. “I tell them to act like each day is our first day open,” she reveals, “It makes people feel happy and special. We are successful because we have great food, great people, and great service.” Hard-pressed to name her personal favorite menu item, which could be a seafood selection one day and beef the next, Lee confesses, “Anything loaded with cilantro makes me happy.” Patrons also relish the colorful array of choices among appetizers, entrées, and desserts yet particularly “love our enchiladas,” she says. “They are unlike the enchiladas you get anywhere else. Most restaurants skip steps to be faster, but we don’t; all of our food is made from scratch.” For the same reason, she asserts, her popular quesadillas and burritos are also exceptionally good. Another signature of Cactus Flower Cafe is its extensive wine list. Although a pleasant surprise to many, Lee maintains that her California-style Mexican cuisine and wine naturally complement each other. Explaining that the habit of drinking beer with Mexican food is a south-of-the-border practice, Lee, who grew up in California, says, “Before California vineyards became so popular, they were grown by the Hispanic people. I had a great-uncle who cultivated grapes and made his own wine.” Although she likes to pair some of the bolder, spicier wines POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016





with her menu items, Lee also offers plenty of conventional wines and numerous beer options in her restaurants. No matter the individual’s preference, the policy of Cactus Flower is to please. If a customer asks for substitutions or variations, the response is “Absolutely.” “All of our dishes are made to order,” Lee says, “so we love doing it.” As a matter of fact, respectful of individuals who adhere to a vegan diet for philosophical or spiritual reasons, Cactus Flower chefs not only change their gloves before preparing such meals, but they also use different utensils. Lee’s can-do approach to delivering her best in terms of food and service coincides with her personal mind-set of accomplishing anything she endeavors— starting from scratch! Before entering the restaurant business, she owned video stores, but the industry evolved, eliminating the demand for mom-and-pop retailers. Determined to remain self-employed, Lee turned to food. “Everyone who knew me said I should open a restaurant,” she says, noting that cooking with Aunt Carmen, who catered large Hispanic celebrations, such as weddings and quinceañeras (a fifteen-year-old girl’s societal debut), provided her culinary training. “I also had amazing people in my life—restaurateurs and other friends who mentored me through the process.”

further oversees the Cactus Flower Cafe at Pensacola Beach Boardwalk. Referring to the arrangement as a “beautiful business marriage,” Lee, in turn, says she has “planted Cactus Flower babies”—her term of endearment for experienced Cactus Flower employees—at the Boardwalk to carry on her traditions and foster the growth of new staff. All in all, patrons can look forward to many happy, healthy celebrations of food, family, and friends at Cactus Flower Cafe. Intending to honor the memory of Aunt Carmen, Lee loves the business of sharing her culture and cuisine in a fresh, flavorful, and festive manner. Fortunately, her daughter Jillian, a strong young woman who sees herself as the Cactus Flower heir, has every intention of continuing the legacy. P


Lee particularly credits Joni DeRome, her partner in life and business, for Cactus Flower Cafe’s sustainability. “I’m right-brained,” says Lee. “While I’m focusing on the customer service and food, Joni, who is left-brained, is looking at the business side. After she came aboard, the restaurant began to run beautifully. I didn’t care about the money part, so Joni organized the business and made it profitable.” Instilling quality assurance with a consistent menu and design for all the restaurants has been fundamental to pleasing diners who become loyal customers. With his resort management expertise, Rob Babcock of Premier Island Management Group










ong before 2003, when ground was broken to begin building Towers One and Two, Robert Rinke and the late Allen Levin, the developers of the Portofino Island Resort, shared an extraordinary vision for a remarkable coastal property—a treasure on the Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound. Inspired by a genuine love and respect for what nature had provided, they determinedly kept 64 percent of the resort in a natural state when erecting the first five towers, the lifestyle center, the pools, and the tennis courts. Granting every wish through onsite amenities and nearby attractions within a service-minded culture, how could Portofino Island possibly get any better as a destination getaway or a full-time residence? Over the years, many have looked to the east for the answer, where twelve acres adjacent to the resort remained untouched. Deliberating the many facets of what they desired for Portofino’s crowning jewel, Rinke and his partners have taken their time to conceive a blueprint that manages to preserve, embellish, and even redefine the lifestyle. “Our goal in designing the final phase is to complete the unique beach-to-bay experience,” says Rinke. In 2015, when Portofino’s owners were among the first to see the artists’ renderings of the future development, prospective buyers immediately wanted to secure their reservations




in Towers Six and Seven. Presales, however, will not commence until 2016, followed by construction in 2017 and completion in 2019. Those sharing any history with Portofino understand the upside of being first in line formaximum returns. Their patience, Rinke asserts, will be rewarded. In fact, he predicts that the wide majority of the 264 new sky homes will be purchased by existing owners simply because they appreciate the investment potential. Rinke reveals that some current owners, intending to sell units in the original towers over the near term, decided to wait, counting on higher market prices that should result from the final phase. “This is a win-win development for investors, whether they buy in the new towers or keep the units they have,” says Rinke, who loves talking about the grand enhancements, accessible to all owners and guests of Portofino Island. “What most excites me about this final phase is the Gulf-front amenity package.” The value of such facilities will be between $25 and $30 million. The twelve acres of land were purchased and paid for years ago. “Without land costs, we can pour the money into the bricks and mortar, creating even more value.” Rinke’s tour of what will come begins with an introduction to Towers Six and Seven. They mirror the five other Mediterraneanstyle triangles, yet they elevate Portofino’s lifestyle with larger units, broader views, and more luxurious appointments. The plan for uncommonly spacious units, even for Portofino, has resulted in having fewer units in the new buildings—117 condos per tower for an average of six homes per floor—in comparison to the preexisting buildings, which have 153 units each— nine per floor. Likewise, measuring 85 linear feet in width, each waterfront sky home will encompass at least 2,500 square feet inside, plus another 500 square feet of outdoor living area. For entertaining or enjoying personal time,



exterior glass doors will slide completely open from both sides of the main living area, showcasing 280-degree panoramic views of the natural estuary, the coastline, and the Gulf of Mexico. This creates a seamless flow from the living and dining rooms to open-air balconies. “The living room alone will be thirty-four feet by twenty-four feet, which is larger than what many people have in their regular homes,” says Rinke. “And the deep balcony provides another full room with an outdoor grill, couches, love seats, and coffee tables. Our large grand salons will also contain big modern kitchens designed for entertainment and gourmet cooking.” He also mentions the “substantially larger” master bedrooms, baths, and closets. “Buyers will find truly livable luxury units befitting the most high-end waterfront property.” In contrast to each of the original towers with their building-exclusive pools and hot tubs on the ground level, the private pool assets for the new towers will exist on the rooftop of the signature facility that stands between Towers Six and Seven. Architecturally designed and positioned to reveal views of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the Gulf of Mexico, the fivestory facility includes exclusive pool decks



for the adjacent towers, as well as encompasses another realm of world-class amenities for all of Portofino Island. If guests prefer not to walk or bike over, they can ride a tram that comes and goes every ten minutes. Upon arrival, they’ll take an elevator up from the main entrance to floor three, where they’ll find the first tier of a forty-thousand-square-foot pool deck. The full deck spans three levels in a terraced effect that conceals the railings so nothing interferes with the scenery. Placing the lowest tier on the third floor of the building will heighten the view, and that tier will also be graced by three infinity pools. Going one flight up via the stairs or an elevator to the middle tier will reveal what Rinke says is a “huge general pool” with multiple food and beverage options—from simple refreshments to gourmet dining—as well as live entertainment. Beyond enriching Portofino’s culinary experiences through different restaurants with varied menus, the facility’s greatly expanded kitchen capacity will satisfy a broader range of requests: a bite to eat under a beach umbrella, private butler service in one’s sky home, or full catering for a group event. Accommodating groups, the structure also contains a $10 million conference facility. Augmenting Portofino’s philosophy of living well, the final phase emphatically promotes health and well-being with a fitness center and a spa, as part of a 3,400-square-foot wellness facility. “Our plan is to affiliate with local hospitals and also pull in a highly accredited, renowned wellness program that focuses on preventative health and longevity,” says Rinke. Eager to host medical conferences, he adds, “The medical community will flow through Portofino.” Whether motivated to get healthy or indulge in the pleasure of getting away, a new wave of visitors, including prospective buyers, are certain


to explore Portofino Island as the development progresses. For the best investment value, Rinke absolutely suggests buying early. “We will presell 75 percent of the units,” he assures, “and then the price will go up. Once the project is complete, owners who rent their units should see a dramatic increase in rental revenue to their already positive returns.” P For more information and personal answers to questions, Rinke welcomes individuals to contact Levin Rinke Resort Realty on Portofino Island Resort at 10 Portofino Drive, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561, or by calling (850) 916-5050.

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Pensacola Day and Night

By Anne W. Schultz • Photography by Cheryl Casey

Exceptionally clear water splashing powdery-white sand beaches, a deepwater bay, luxurious forests, spring-fed rivers carving rugged bluffs, prairies of blooming wildflowers, and a mild, sunny climate: the same natural elements that lure visitors to the Pensacola, Florida, region today are what enticed Spanish settlers here in 1559.




However, back then, choosing the right lo cation meant more than fu n and sun: it made the difference between life and death. Carr ying few provisions, and without bottled wa ter or supermarkets handy , these early settlers relied completely on the b ounty of sea, rivers, and land for their very su rvival. For the twenty-first-century traveler, a getaway to a slow-paced outdoor destination like Pensacola means survival of a different sort. Today’s visitor flocks to these natural havens for relief from tech-driven, stress-filled days to kick back, relax, and take time out for emotional and spiritual replenishment. Pensacola’s abundant natural assets, coupled with a richly layered history, make for a well-rounded vacation of recreational activities, urban pleasures, and historical and cultural enrichment. Although Pensacola has been around for 450 years—longer than the United States has been a country— you’d never know it. The once slumbering downtown now pulsates with energy as the result of a recent revitalization movement. A few nips and tucks here and there, and in some cases major facelifts, have restored its youthful glow. Instead of demolishing old buildings like some cities do, Pensacola restores early nineteenth- and twentieth-century structures for new purposes to preserve historical integrity. An art gallery flourishes in a former jail and a historical museum takes up residence in what once was city hall. Traces of Spain still linger in lacy wrought-iron balconies and courtyards, street names like Palafox, and leafy plazas with splashing fountains. While tapas served at some area restaurants reflect Spanish cuisine, shiny beads flung on trees from a past Mardi Gras parade recall the Catholic heritage spread throughout the Gulf Coast by Spanish missions. “Europeans come for this history, warm climate, and outdoor activities. They prefer staying here and making day trips to the beach,” says Bonnie Robertson, who with her husband, Bob, owns and operates Noble Manor, a 1905 bed-and-breakfast located in the historic North Hill district. “They like coming back here after the beach. They swim in the outdoor pool in the summer and enjoy the hot tub in winter. They love walking downtown from here and sometimes I’ll suggest they tote a bottle of wine and a picnic to the weekly concert at the park.” Five high-ceiled, spacious rooms along with the pool and hot tub make Noble Manor the perfect retreat after a busy day. Sounds like a good strategy to follow. With its warm climate and plenty of sunshine, the area has always been fun by day, and now that nights twinkle brightly with downtown city lights, it’s a joy to explore both day and night. 68



Amble down Seville Square streets laid out by the British and renamed by the Spaniards to learn about the early Spanish colonial era at places like the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum and the Historic Pensacola Village.

Reconstruct Pensacola’s rich and tumultuous past from art facts collected at the city’s museums. Whether it’s a rusty anchor recovered from a shipwreckor a fragment of armor retrieved from the sand, these found objects bring the past to life. They help you visualize Spanish galleons sailing to shore with massive sails billowing in the breeze and to imagine the terrified reactions of Native Americans as they gazed at strange-looking white men invading their lands, clad in metal armor and sporting beards and long hair. The natives called the gray moss trailing from live oak trees Spanish moss, as it resembled the gray beards of conquistadors. Head to the Historic Pensacola Village to visit some of the twenty-seven buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They border Seville Square, a spacious green used by the Spaniards for parade grounds, where their horses pranced beneath the shade of massive-limbed live oak trees. A walking tour led by a costumed docent takes you inside some of these homes dating from 1805 to the 1890s and representing styles from French-Creole to Victorian. End the tour at Old Christ Church, one of Florida’s oldest surviving churches. After the tour, eat lunch at Dharma Blue, located in a charming vernacular cottage across the square. Try one of their specialties, such as Dharma’s Chef Salad loaded with goodies like grilled chicken, feta cheese, and crunchy almonds, or a Fried Green Tomato Club with applewoodsmoked bacon and Creole honey mustard. At night they serve Gulf seafood and some of the finest quality sushi around. Head downtown for more history at the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, housed in an imposing Spanish Revival building that once served as city hall. The Pensacola: City of Five Flags exhibit displays artifacts from a sixteenth-century shipwreck thought to be from the original colonizing expedition. Another exhibit explains how the little-known Battle of Pensacola contributed greatly to America winning its freedom, as it prevented the British from gaining control of the Gulf of Mexico. The Quayside Art Gallery on Zaragoza Street showcases the artistic endeavors of over sixty local artists in one of the largest artist co-ops in the Southeast. Individualistic talents are expressed in everything from oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings to photography and creations of glass, fiber, and wood. All are artfully displayed on walls of the old Germania Steam Fire Engine and Hose Company building.







Since Pensacola is referred to as the Cradle of Naval Aviation, no visit would be complete without spending several hours at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Even the most earthbound will be impressed at what happens when the Navy takes to the skies in a museum that draws the largest attendance of any kind in Florida, according to the Lonely Planet Florida guidebook. At 300,000 square feet, it’s the largest naval aviation museum anywhere, displaying over 140 restored aircraft from Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard aviation. Follow the evolution of flight from primitive cloth biplanes to streamlined fighter jets, and marvel at how such a boxy contraption as the NC-4 flying boat made it as the first to cross the Atlantic. To test your own wings, buckle

up in a new 3D MaxFlight Simulator for a one-of-a-kind aerial adventure. Not to be missed is the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show. In November, this precision flying team ends its tour with an acrobatic extravaganza in the skies above its Pensacola home base. On September 20, the museum hosted a gala to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Naval Air Station and the fiftieth anniversary of the Naval Aviation Museum. Wander the paths of what resembles a Spanish village of white stucco buildings with clay tile roofs and discover why Duh is a shopping experience unlike any other— anywhere! The Pensacola Digest describes it as a “lifestyle destination.”

“People ask me all the time about the name,” says Jim Rigsbee, who, along with partner Quinn Stinson, created Duh for Garden and Home on Ninth Avenue fourteen years ago. “Even though we have elegant, high-quality furnishings, we wanted to keep everything laid-back, so we came up with a playful, unpretentious name.” The original store has transitioned to four separate buildings containing two clothing boutiques, a stationery shop, a floral design venue, and a dual restaurant, where, after longtime city favorite Norma’s serves lunch, Chef Blake Rushing steps in and whips up dinner at Type. It’s a sensual experience walking through courtyards and arched doorways past lush landscapes of exotic flowering plants and greenery, where POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016


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garden accessories spill out into the main courtyard with a circular fountain imported from France. Inside, senses are soothed by a sea of furniture and accessories, all in calming neutral colors that mimic a coastal seascape. Picture muted grays as clouds and beiges inspired by wet sand, all accessorized by natural materials like driftwood, shell, stone, and linens. “People stop by here often just to browse,” says Rigsbee. In their store, the owners practice what they suggest customers do: they surround themselves with things they love.


Start with a handcrafted martini at Jackson’s Steakhouse, located in a refurbished 1860s building that once housed a mercantile store. Considered

Pensacola’s finest, the nine-time consecutive recipient of Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon award is also ranked as one of Florida’s top twenty-five restaurants. With its impeccable service, elegant yet understated decor, and attention to detail both in presentation and quality ingredients, it’s like dining in France, where cooking is considered an art form. Yet it’s homegrown American, as its Chef Irv Miller, one of the pioneers of New Florida Cuisine, pays homage to Florida seafood and local produce year-round. He coaxes the maximum flavor from traditional Gulf Coast specialties by using innovative techniques and unique flavor combinations. He features the region’s finest local seafood, like Apalachicola oysters and Destin red snapper, and also supports small local growers and producers of artisanal foods. Patrons look through the original glass windows and see what inspired the restaurant at Plaza Ferdinand across the street. There, a bust of Andrew Jackson commemorates the site where Spain relinquished control of Florida to the United States in 1821, and the American flag first flew over Pensacola. The restaurant’s founders named it in honor of Jackson and use his signature as a logo. Chandeliers bring the park inside with ironwork handcrafted to resemble the roots of live oak trees. Another stellar restaurant is the Global Grill, which occupies a former downtown shoe store. This upscale bar and restaurant gives the city a taste of Spain with its selection of tapas along with main restaurant items. Two signature favorites are succulent lamb lollipops and the applewoodbacon-wrapped lobster tail. Chef Frank Taylor and his wife, Jane, have won numerous awards, including the Golden Spoon twice, since opening in 2003. He employs special French and Creole culinary skills that he perfected as a guest chef under Chef Jamie Shannon at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016





For lighter fare in a casual atmosphere try Carmen’s Lunch Bar, known for its creative soups, salads, and homemade sandwiches. Tapas are served in the evening, when cooler temperatures and coastal breezes invite sitting outdoors and mingling with locals and visitors. The weather is also ideal for outdoor casual fare at Al Fresco, where Airstream trailers offer a choice of diverse cuisines such as Mexican and Thai. Cultural buffs applaud not only performances at the Saenger Theatre but also the building itself—a dazzling beauty after its recent $15 million renovation and expansion. The theatre has hosted ballet, opera, symphony, and stage productions since it opened in 1925. Continue on late into the night as the city buzzes with sounds of conversation and the laughter of crowds hanging around the infusion of new wine bars, brew pubs, and music venues. An occasional melody floats up from one of the pianos placed around sidewalks for anyone to play. Seville Square hosts a free concert every week, where crowds gather and picnic. On one Friday each month, Gallery Night draws from ten to fifteen thousand participants who crowd downtown sidewalks, sampling food, drink, and music as galleries open their doors to the public. And if that’s not enough, there are ongoing special events, parades, and festivals scheduled every month. Day or night, a visit to the recently opened Vince J. Whibbs, Sr. Community Maritime Park is sure to please. Sports fans cheer on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball team at the multipurpose stadium. This waterfront complex includes the stadium, an amphitheater, and multiuse park festival grounds offering thousands of square feet for accommodating large-scale events. And don’t drive away without an ice-packed cooler brimming with local seafood from Joe Patti’s Seafood Market. A tradition since 1931, they sell only the freshest, most reasonably priced seafood in the Florida Panhandle. Having evolved over centuries, Pensacola anchors the Gulf Coast region, lending a depth, authenticity, and character often lacking in the touristobsessed resort communities that seem to spring up overnight. All of these attributes keep people coming back, and many choose to stay. “I moved here from upstate New York to be with my daughter, who is an Air Force pilot, and I love it,” shares Joanne Bobb, a server at Carmen’s Lunch Bar. “I feel safe and the people are so friendly. It’s easy to get around as so much is in walking distance.” Bobb makes a great case for settling down here. After all, Pensacola is like a fine vintage wine: it only gets better with age.

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THE PORTOFINO LIFESTYLE A SNAPSHOT OF LIFE AT THE BEACH From enjoying a picnic on the pristine white sands by the Gulf of Mexico to chasing the sun during a fun-filled boat ride to the Boardwalk, there’s never a dull moment at Portofino Island Resort. Experience the local pastimes of relaxing on the beach and having fun in the sun—in style, of course!


















PORTOFINO TRI SERIES When observing one of Portofino’s heart-pumping forty-five-minute Super Sprint Triathlons, most spectators would say that pairing the event with a resort is a no-brainer. The Santa Rosa Sound provides a warm, quiet body of water for the threehundred-yard swim; likewise, the two-lane road and paved path that venture along the Gulf Islands National Seashore yield safe and mercifully level routes for the seven-and-a-half-mile bicycle race and one-and-a-half-mile run. Indeed, with so many fundamental elements in place, including a world-class resort to host everyone, the Portofino Tri Series, which launched in 2011, has earned praise among all levels of triathletes, as well as from the industry. The Portofino Tri may be a no-brainer, but it is certainly not a breeze. John Murray and Mark Sortino—the triathlete coaches and cofounders of Multisport Performance Institute (MPI) who orchestrate the USA Triathlon–sanctioned race on behalf of Portofino—and participants alike quickly contend that much preparation—along with plenty of sweat—fuels this endeavor. Cortney Martin, who finished first among the females in her race (in thirty-seven minutes, fifty-one seconds) and ranked fifth overall, did not accomplish the feat simply by showing up. She prepared by tirelessly conditioning her postpregnancy physique and releasing her competitive spirit. “I have an

average body,” she asserts, “but love competition and enjoy pushing the limits to see what I can do. I put in the work.”

she was ready to go. “The nice thing about the Super Sprint distance was being able to enjoy a full day with my boys, put in a great race, and still feel terrific the next day.”

Growing up, she didn’t have to think about working out. Always riding and taking care of her horse, she was a skinny girl. Life, nevertheless, became more sedentary after marrying, holding a teaching position at Virginia Tech, having her two boys, and becoming a stay-at-home mom. Cortney reached a low point in her health and a high mark on the scale after earning her PhD in engineering, which gobbled up all of her spare time. Determined to reverse those trends, she joined a health club, secured a trainer, and even started a blog, which she named Unblobbing, to log her fitness journey.

The quick race attracts triathletes of all levels. “A Super Sprint delivers an unusual experience for most,” says Cortney. “Short doesn’t mean easy.” She explains that the minisegments require higher levels of intensity than the longer, more typical endurance contests do. Not only must experienced swimmers, bikers, and runners perform every step of the way, but they must also strategize differently. Making up lost time is tough. “The transitions from swimming to biking and biking to running become more critical, so the competition is on to make them clean and fast.”

Inspired by her trainer, Cortney soon ran her first half marathon, which would lead to full marathons, trail races, and more. Loving her newfound energy and discovering her affinity for endurance sports, Cortney competed in her first triathlon just one year after setting foot in the gym for the first time. She has since made a name for herself as a formidable competitor while also making a living in the fitness industry. As marketing director of fortyninegroup, which specializes in sports marketing, Cortney works with MPI. However, combining work and pleasure wasn’t really on her mind when she decided to enter the Portofino Tri. Yes, she was happy to see the MPI coaches, but finding a beautiful beach resort for the family with a Super Sprint just for her sealed the deal. “We were desperate for a family vacation,” Cortney recalls. Her husband couldn’t get away, so she and her two boys, Spencer and Grant (ages 13 and 11 at the time), packed the car and rode from Virginia to Florida. Cortney’s race was part of the Portofino Sunset Tri Series and had a starting time of six thirty on a Thursday evening. “We arrived on Wednesday, so we grocery shopped and just had a play day.” Cortney says about the morning of the race, “I had an open water swim to knock out the cobwebs.” She also warmed up with a little run and bike ride about an hour before the race started, and she took advantage of a complimentary bike checkup provided by Infinity Bicycles of Orange Beach, a race sponsor. After that,

“The people who want to win are racing to the finish line,” says John Murray, an experienced triathlete and coach. He says others are more focused on beating their own times. “One young man, ranked number one nationally in his age group, comes out occasionally to see what he can do with his run. Most come to say they did a triathlon.” Voted one of the best races for beginners by Triathlon Business International, an organization that promotes the business and sport of triathlon, the Portofino Tri Series is known for encouraging every person—down to the last one—to cross the finish line, all for personal satisfaction. Although Portofino’s races are officially timed (mats and chips were added in 2015), the usual T-shirts and awards are omitted. Sponsors donate bike helmets and other great prizes, which are given out in drawings, but John says, “I don’t want our races to take away from beginners, who come primarily to cross the finish line, because when that happens, they feel they have just climbed Mount Everest.” Trophies and other trappings would also increase the overhead, and MPI aims to keep entry fees low in light of limiting races to seventy entrants. “Having seventy versus a thousand people is far less intimidating,” says John. “Imagine jumping in the water in a wave of a hundred other athletes. If you’re slower, you’ll have people swimming over you.” POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016


“The swim is nice,” offers Cortney. “The water’s calm and clear, and you can see the shore.” For added safety and piece of mind, two certified, experienced lifeguards are there to guide. Among other factors that benefit novices, Cortney mentions the back-and-forth bicycle and running courses. “Everything is well-marked, and you don’t have to worry about turns or getting lost,” she says. “I talk with the athletes at the beginning to share the details of the course,” adds John, “and also make a point of mentioning the first-timers. They’re excited, raising their hands, with their spouses, kids, or parents there to celebrate with them.” Cheering spectators heighten the excitement, and the tight course keeps them engaged. “They can watch the swim,” says Cortney, “and it’s a short



walk for the crowd to transition to the cyclists and runners, who can be seen coming and going. Friends and family members are also not waiting long hours for their racers to finish.” With only her children along on their trip, Cortney felt she could concentrate on her performance without worrying about their safety or enjoyment. “It was nice for the boys to walk down from our sky home to see the race, and they didn’t have to hang around if they didn’t want to. They felt they had a lot of freedom at Portofino.” Popular among observers and participants, the Portofino Tri Series now has a duathlon—one-anda-half-mile run, seven-and-a-half-mile bike, and one-and-a-half-mile run—in the spring, when the water can be chilly. Switching up the schedule with a ladies-only race, alternating between Thursday evening and Saturday morning events, including

relay options, and offering more race varieties further entice different groups to come. For any given race, MPI’s coaches look forward to witnessing those moments when individuals overcome their inhibitions and accomplish something they never dreamed possible. Along with conducting the races, they offer many facets and levels of personal training to foster such triumphs. Cortney also loves to encourage other triathletes by blogging and sharing her activities at As she says, “Having the sport and excuse to go outside to run, bike, and swim, and get away from technology—and everything else that makes life overwhelming—definitely makes me a better mother, worker, and spouse.”



hat prompts people to become property owners on Portofino Island? Some decide after spending a single vacation at the resort. Others rely upon experiences that predate the development. Roger Heroux first traveled to Pensacola in 1990 while working in mergers and acquisitions. “I was on a business trip to buy a company,” he recalls, “and I asked if there were any nice beaches nearby.” The serene coast, he learned, was just twenty minutes from downtown, yet it seemed a world away. Situated on Santa Rosa Island with the Gulf of Mexico to the south, the Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay to the north, and the Gulf Islands National Seashore to the east and west, was Pensacola Beach. Its beauty, enhanced with sugarwhite sand, rivaled that of the distant Caribbean

islands, yet the atmosphere was homegrown, Southern, and hospitable. “I was very impressed with the environment and the setting,” Roger says. Over the years, Roger and his wife, Peggy, began visiting the area. “As we spent more and more time there meeting people, we made a real estate connection with Robert Rinke, who was starting to develop Emerald Isle (a luxury condominium property) with Allen Levin,” Roger explains. Levin passed away several years ago, and Rinke would eventually develop Portofino Island; but in the interim, the Herouxes became involved in the team’s other preconstruction projects. Although they had a home that they loved in Colorado Springs, the couple also desired a place at the beach—and they had far more on their checklist than a beautiful coast. “When we considered the idea of retiring or semiretiring on the beach, we looked at Pensacola’s international airport, great healthcare, and vital city with shops, galleries, restaurants, and activities,” says Roger. He expresses that people too often retire to a beloved vacation spot and then regret the impulsive move once they realize the community lacks lifestyle features that are important to them. POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016


Even though Pensacola Beach met their criteria in terms of people, services, and plenty to do, the Herouxes are happy they took their time before settling into a permanent home. “Initially, Roger and I were going to build a house on the bayside,” says Peggy. Their priorities changed, however, when Pensacola took direct hits from two hurricanes in 1995: Erin in August and Opal in October. Suddenly reluctant to assume the responsibility of caring for a standalone house on the water, Peggy adds, “We then discovered condo living!” Admiring the quality and integrity of Levin and Rinke’s projects, the couple confidently invested in Portofino Island. It would be a world-class resort, and although no one could prevent the next storm, the developers took extra precautions to protect the property. They reserved the first four levels of each tower for parking to avoid flood damage in the condos and fortified every building with hurricane-hardened, steel-reinforced concrete that could withstand a Category 5 hurricane. With peace of mind, the Herouxes purchased and rented out several units over time in all of the resort’s five towers. While renting, they “had a very positive experience” with Premier Island Management Group’s vacation rental program, which manages over three hundred of the 765 units at Portofino. “Before we became residents, renting provided an investment for us and an affordable way to pay our HOA dues,” Peggy says. Following Rinke’s advice, which was to take good care of their units so that renters would do the same, they constantly made sure that everything was clean and up to date in keeping with Portofino’s quality standards, and they found that the price for repairs was minor in comparison to the returns they subsequently enjoyed. Their attentiveness also ensured the repeat visits of many satisfied guests. Pleased with their profits, the Herouxes have since sold their rental properties and now maintain one three-bedroom condo as their private dwelling. They reside at Portofino for at least half the year. “Three bedrooms are ideal for us,” says Roger. “We’re fortunate that we can work from anywhere, so one room is an office.” They especially love that their condo overlooks the bay, island, and Gulf. “The way the towers were placed at least a 88


“THE WAY THE TOWERS WERE PLACED AT LEAST A HUNDRED YARDS AWAY FROM ONE ANOTHER ALLOWS EACH ARCHITECTURALLY BEAUTIFUL BUILDING TO HAVE ITS OWN VIEWS WITHOUT DISRUPTING THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.” hundred yards away from one another allows each architecturally beautiful building to have its own views without disrupting the natural environment.” Coexisting with nature, Portofino is one stop along a tropical flyway, so bird-watching is among many rewarding pastimes. Attuned to the wildlife, Roger also reports that he regularly sees dolphins while paddleboarding, rowing, and kayaking. Though often pausing to admire the scenery, he and Peggy are not the kind to remain planted. “We work out every day,” Peggy adds, “and have met a lot of people through the fitness center.” Beyond taking advantage of activities and classes such as water aerobics, spinning, and yoga, the Herouxes have been instrumental in enhancing Portofino’s lifestyle. For example, living in Colorado Springs afforded them a familiarity with USA Triathlon—the governing body for triathlon events throughout the country—which is headquartered there. Consequently, Roger and Peggy championed on-site triathlon training and worked with Portofino’s management to assist the coaches who launched the Multisport Performance Institute. MPI provides all levels of personal training to Portofino’s residents and guests, and it also produces the Portofino Tri Series, which is the resort’s signature super-sprint distance triathlon event (a duathlon was also added in 2015). For the couple, being involved in their Portofino community includes contributing their talents and facilitating introductions that augment the prevailing philosophy of living well.

That shared philosophy inspires many associated with Portofino to improve the lives of others, and they find numerous outlets for charitable work. MPI and Portofino, for example, support the Wounded Warrior Project. Peggy, in turn, belongs to IMPACT 100, a philanthropic group of Pensacola women who identify and assist meaningful causes in the Pensacola Bay Area such as the Pensacola Humane Society. No matter a person’s interests, Peggy and Roger contend that Pensacola is a welcoming community with a Southern style to make newcomers feel like they belong. In that spirit, the Herouxes take great pleasure in greeting and getting to know Portofino’s guests and owners. “We have met people from all over and consider many of them our lifetime friends,” says Peggy.

to Disney World. “The management company has been key to ensuring that we have exceptional amenities, so whether living or renting here, you can count on General Manager Rob Babcock to run an outstanding operation in a serviceoriented culture.” “We’ve looked at a lot of condo projects,” says Peggy, “and Portofino is the highest-quality property we’ve seen on the Florida Panhandle and in many other states.” “We like the destination resort concept with the lifestyle center and outdoor activities,” says Roger, agreeing that it’s hard to beat Portofino Island. “I thoroughly enjoy living and owning the Portofino lifestyle.” P

“We love interacting with families at the fitness center and on the beach,” says Roger, who gets a kick out of hearing parents report that their kids prefer Portofino POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016





ince 1914, the skies above Pensacola have served as a “classroom” for US Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard airmen and have produced tens of thousands of pilots and aircrew. Aptly referred to as the Cradle of Naval Aviation, Pensacola was the natural choice to become the home of the National Naval Aviation Museum. Located aboard the Naval Air Station Pensacola, this sprawling 350,000-square-foot complex houses the largest collection of naval aircraft and artifacts in the world. With more than 150 aircraft on display and hundreds of others out on loan to other museums, the collection contains examples of all types—from the earliest fabric-winged biplanes of the First World War to modern jet-powered aircraft that are currently in service—and boasts more aircraft than the inventories of most of the world’s current air forces.



Originally established in 1962, the museum, in its current arrangement, opened in 1975 and has seen steady growth with the acquisition of newly retired aircraft from active service, the restoration of aircraft held in storage, and the donation of memorabilia. The museum’s extensive collection is widely considered to be among the finest in the world. The aircraft on display have been meticulously restored, and unlike many other aviation museums, the majority of the aircraft is displayed at floor level and without cordons or barriers to prevent visitors from closely inspecting them. Many of the aircraft in the museum’s collection are one-of-a-kind prototypes or are the single surviving aircraft of their types, making the museum the only place in the world in which these aircraft can be seen. Other aircraft in the collection gained fame due to the passengers they carried: the S-3B Viking “Navy One” used by President George W. Bush, the VH-3 “Marine One” helicopter used by Presidents Nixon and Ford, and Admiral Nimitz’s PB2Y Coronado.

um's The muse lection l o c e v i s exten nsidered o c y l e d i is w ng the o m a e b o t orld. w e h t n i finest The collection is organized chronologically, beginning with the birth of naval aviation and World War I, followed by World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Each event is represented with aircraft and displays of armaments, equipment, uniforms, scale models, and memorabilia that are specific to an era. While naval aviation played an important role in every major US conflict of the twentieth century, its defining moment was certainly the Pacific campaign during World War II. Anyone who is interested in the war against Japan will not be disappointed by the museum’s impressive displays, which include a full-size re-creation of aircraft carrier USS Cabot’s island superstructure and flight deck, a Guadalcanal diorama that features a Marine Corps F4F Wildcat, and a 1940s-era small-town “Main Street,” complete with barber shop and general store. 92




The museum’s collection isn’t limited to warbirds; themed sections of the museum that honor naval aviation’s contributions to transatlantic flight, lighter-than-air travel, and space exploration show the broad impact of US naval aviation. The museum does not simply display aircraft. The goal is for visitors to experience naval aviation, and the museum offers a variety of entertaining ways for people to do so. Visitors can climb into the cockpit of a Blue Angels F-4 Phantom, strap themselves into an ejection seat, watch a movie in the museum’s IMAX Theatre, or fly a combat mission over Iraq in a MaxFlight 360-degree fullmotion flight simulator. From March to November, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, visitors can watch

for s i l a o g e Th rience e p x e o t visitors ion, t a i v a l a nav seum u m e h t d an ty of e i r a v a offers for s y a w g n i entertain do so. o t e l p o pe

the Blue Angels perform practice flights from the flight line and meet pilots for autographs. Visitors can grab lunch at the museum’s Cubi Bar Café, which was modeled after the famous Cubi Point Officers’ Club in the Philippines and is an exhibit in its own right. Finally, the museum boasts one of the largest and most complete gift shops featuring aviation clothing, artwork, model kits, and books. The National Naval Aviation Museum is open daily from nine to five (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day). Parking, admission, and guided tours of the museum are free. A pass is not required for entry, but visitors must present valid identification upon entry onto the air station.



By Sallie W. Boyles • Photography by Ashley Simmons—Palafox Street Weddings When expectant parents learn a baby is on the way, the number one item on their agenda is to prepare a place for their newborn to sleep. Whether they choose a crib or a cradle, first-time moms and dads know they want to provide a safe, comfortable sanctuary that fosters a deep, nurturing sleep. Later, to prevent the toddler from becoming a nighttime nomad and a daytime terror, they take great pains to ensure that the bed and the room are conducive to falling and remaining asleep. Inexplicably, however, by the time the teen years arrive, the necessity of a good night’s sleep, which is essential in all ages,



plummets to the bottom of life’s priorities and manages to stay there—unless something changes. The catalyst for change in Pandora de Balthazár’s life was a spinal injury she suffered in a car accident. Living with pain and partial paralysis, she traveled to Hungary for treatment. Although a rare neurological surgery instigated the miracle of her recovery, Pandora insists that the pillow system prescribed for her months of bed rest “gave me back my life.” In addition to granting the ideal support

for her body, her bed, made with the softest pure cotton sheets and quilts, embraced her skin and kept her cool and comfortable. Other textiles, such as exquisite antique laces, produced a dreamy, eighteenth-century ambience that calmed Pandora’s mind so she could succumb to the rest she desperately needed. Returning to her home in Northwest Florida, the former financial manager, who once valued her career more than sleep, experienced an awakening that led her to launch her signature enterprise, Pandora de Balthazár. That was in 1995. Subsequently, over the past two decades, Pandora de Balthazár—the woman and the business—have provided a wealth of knowledge and the invaluable gift of sleep to clients through the meticulously assembled European Sleep System. Incorporating custom and premade components, Pandora’s product line includes every element necessary for the bed—the frame and mattress,

the pillows and sheets, the comforters and duvets, and the bed skirts and shams. Starting with top-of-the-line materials such as luxurious, high-thread-count cotton and handpicked Hungarian goose down, the foundational pieces are designed to cradle and comfort the individual for an ergonomically correct and healthy bed rest. The down also remains naturally cool so that the body doesn’t overheat. (A healthy alternative to down is available for allergy sufferers.) “I was slightly skeptical about the feather bedding keeping me cooler,” says Erin Mecca, the practice administrator at the New Jersey Neck and Back Institute, “but it works! Further, it does not take away any of the benefits of the Tempur-Pedic mattress.” Importantly, too, all materials are washable, and Pandora strongly encourages regular laundering—a service she provides. “I wash my pillows at least every three months,” she asserts, “and I’ve had mine for twenty-five years.” Among all the bedding components she sells, which are available in complete packages—generally incorporating custom designs, monograms, and rare fabrics—or by item, Pandora emphasizes the importance of pillows. Four specially chosen pillows comprise the support package for one person. “Your pillows are custom aligned to fit your body,” she says, “no matter how tall or wide you are.” Although the investment can be significant, customers with neck and back issues are among the first to say Pandora’s pillows are worth every



penny. Many confide that they previously slept in their La-Z-Boys before achieving comfort in bed. Eager to guide clients on a budget by helping them prioritize, Pandora is perplexed by those who’ll outfit their fabulous yachts and vacation homes—havens for rest and rejuvenation—with cheap foam pillows. “What is your sleep life worth?” she asks. Her customers respond in various ways. “After multiple breast cancer surgeries,” says client Elizabeth Horne, “Pandora’s European Sleep System offered the only way I could truly rest and get a night’s sleep. The system seems to prevent the lymphedema from returning.” Another, Laurie Trent Johnston, says, “Comparing the Pandora pillow to a traditional pillow is like comparing a limousine to a roller skate; there is no comparison. I look forward to many comfortable, pain-free nights.” Relief from pain and various illnesses are powerful incentives, but the pure need for sleep inspires many people, too. Dr. Steven Hamilton, a Houston-based plastic surgeon, reveals he has “a little touch of claustrophobia” that prevents him from feeling at ease under the covers, so he values the ability to climb into a bed that doesn’t make him feel trapped. “My pillows don’t get crushed or hot, and with cool, soft linens almost gliding over my skin—sheets and pillowcases that are unlike those you’d find in the everyday world—I never feel stuck or knotted up.” Now that he can surrender to eight hours of sleep, he adds, “I thank Pandora for helping me live longer.” Many sleep-deprived adults, like children, are the last to admit that they’re not only tired and irritable but also unfocused. Pandora, therefore, poses the question, “Do you often find yourself wondering, ‘Why did I do that?’ Also, look at your eating habits. Your brain knows what it wants for a burst of energy: caffeine and sugar. Are you craving sodas and carbs? People who get a full eight hours of sleep each night are not reaching for those quick energy boosts.” Referencing scientific studies, Pandora teaches that adults require four consecutive cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep—at least eight hours per night—in order to remove bodily toxins and allow vital organs to resume their functions at optimal levels. “The average person,” she says, “gets six and a half hours. Ironically, the language today is all about health and well-being, organic and vegan. Sleep is as natural as it gets, and it’s free! All you have to do is create a bed that’s comfortable enough to sleep in for eight to nine hours a night.” Our surroundings must also nurture us and help us to relax. Guiding clients to decorate their bedrooms and to enjoy what they see from the first moment they open their eyes in the morning to the moment they close them at night, Pandora offers an array of creations to soothe the senses, many of which are individually sourced and fabricated, and to produce the intimate retreats of her clients’ dreams.



“I jokingly challenged Pandora to make the bed that would one day be sufficiently ethereal and fabulous that it could be the last thing I gazed upon before my peaceful demise, preferably as a contented old gardening gentleman,” says Dr. Hamilton. “My previous, somewhat cynical, and uninformed view of antique textiles allowed Pandora to completely catch me off guard when she delivered a country bed to my farm in multiple shades of blue and white that drew its design from those of the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The figurative, if not literal, textile garden in hand-loomed, bespoke designs, bequeathed by talented and inspired hands, has become a portal through which the sleeper travels every night.” As a surgeon, Dr. Hamilton admired the craftsmanship of Pandora’s products, entailing thousands of hours, love, and care. “By teaching this lost art of dressing the bed,” he adds, “and serving as a premier source of fine, antique, or impossibly rare and museum-quality heirloom textiles to adorn rooms, Pandora reawakens an experience that we would have otherwise ignored or missed. Like seeing the color blue for the first time, you wouldn’t know what you were missing until the first encounter. ” “We have a passion for taking beautiful old items, such as heirloom linens, and giving them new life for others to enjoy,” says Pandora. “At the same time, our mission is to provide clients with the things that help them change their lives for the better. We accomplish that by showing people they don’t have to hurt all night or be sleep deprived. When you sleep more, you can be a better person. You have more to give others.”

For this reason, Pandora has bedding for all ages, including babies, and she loves to assist young families and brides. “Brides will put our items on their wish lists,” she says. When starting or completing their Pandora collection or simply shopping for a gift, customers will also find cotton nightgowns, elegant boudoir accessories, and Pandora’s own line of lavender products, made in Pensacola. “We love pretty things,” Pandora says, “but we’re here to give you a better way to sleep for a better life.”

Store Hours: Monday–Friday 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Showroom: 418 E. Wright St., Pensacola, FL 32501 (850) 434-5117 |



Chef Irv Miller preparing chargrilled Eastpoint wild clams with Casino butter and Benton’s bacon on the terrace POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016












1. Brooke Parkhurst and husband, James Briscione, director of culinary development at the Institute of Culinary Education 2. and 6. Beautiful table settings and decor abound throughout the James Beard House 3. Brooke Fleming of Visit Pensacola with Joey Scarborough 4. Chef Irv Miller of Jackson’s Steakhouse 5. Chef Gus Silivos (right) working with the sous chefs in the Beard kitchen 7. Kay Baggett and Kristen Peterson with Carla Hall of The Chew on ABC 8. VIE’s editor-in-chief and publisher, Gerald and Lisa Burwell 9. Lisa Ekus with Bon Appétit, Y’all author, Virginia Willis




SHOW must

GO ON t wo t h e at re ex p eri en c es in d ow n tow n p en s aco la

By Lori Hutzler Eckert | Photography courtesy of the Pensacola Opera




hen the sun sets on Northwest Florida’s beaches, the curtain rises on cultural enrichment and entertainment. This is an opportunity for guests at Portofino Island Resort to take in art and culture and have some fun during the Pensacola Opera’s and the Pensacola Little Theatre’s seasons of world-class performances.

the p en s aco la o p era The Pensacola Opera, a fully professional regional company, was founded more than thirty years ago as a volunteer chamber opera. Today, this preeminent nonprofit organization presents a remarkable annual program that brings the power and passion of opera to the storied Saenger Theatre, located in downtown Pensacola. “Portofino Island Resort is tucked away in a peaceful beachside paradise; however, just twenty minutes away is a vibrant, thriving downtown that offers an array of exceptional cultural offerings such as the Pensacola Opera,” says Rob Babcock, general manager of Premier Island Management Group, operators of Portofino Island Resort. “The Opera provides our community with a significant artistic contribution that we value as a distinctive and unique entertainment option for our guests, year after year.” Past mainstage productions include venerable operas such as Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème, Georges Bizet’s Carmen, and W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. The performances, often presented in their original languages, feature nationally recognized singers. The 1,800-seat, Spanish Baroque/Rococo–style Saenger Theatre—a diva in its own right— provides a flawless, dramatic backdrop for the Opera’s elaborately designed and appointed sets and period-authentic costumes.



With its history so deeply rooted in the community, the Opera shares its spotlight with other local arts organizations, offering patrons a full experience of the cultural richness in the area. The Pensacola Symphony provides live music for the mainstage performances, and members of Ballet Pensacola, the volunteer Opera Chorus, and the Pensacola Children’s Chorus lend their talents to support the casts of many of the productions. In a concerted effort to expose children and teens to the experience of opera, the organization hosts annual camps for kids ages eight to sixteen. Through a hands-on approach, participants learn about all aspects of an opera production: singing, acting, costumes, makeup, set design, and staging. Held in five-day workshops during the summer, the camps offer an exceptionally creative vacation activity for younger guests.

pensacola little theatre, located in the heart of downtown ’ s vibrant arts district and just twelve miles from portofino island resort, was founded nearly eighty years ago with a mission to entertain, enrich, and educate adults and children in all aspects of theatre.

The Pensacola Opera offers up to three mainstage productions per year; however, the company hosts many other performances and events throughout the year. To learn more about the Pensacola Opera and to purchase tickets, visit or call (850) 433-6737.

the p en s aco la

li t t le t h e at re Another leader in Pensacola’s thriving arts and culture scene is a little theatre that brings big entertainment to area residents and visitors. Pensacola Little Theatre, located in the heart of downtown’s vibrant arts district and just twelve miles from Portofino Island Resort, was founded nearly eighty years ago with a mission to entertain, enrich, and educate adults and children in all aspects of theatre. The nonprofit has a rich history of producing high-quality plays and musicals and providing education through outreach programs and classes.



with more than a dozen performances featured every year, guests can enjoy traditional favorites, such as annie get your gun and ordinary people , as well as emerging productions like the last night of ballyhoo and momologues 2 : off to school .



Housed in the Pensacola Cultural Center a state-of-the-art facility designed specifically to offer unobstructed views from every seat— Pensacola Little Theatre presents four production series on the main stage and in the courtroom theatres. With more than a dozen performances featured every year, guests can enjoy traditional favorites, such as Annie Get Your Gun and Ordinary People, as well as emerging productions like The Last Night of Ballyhoo and MOMologues 2: Off to School. Amid the streaming spotlights, the artful stage makeup, the professionally designed costumes, and the sets created with an expert’s eye for detail—all aspects worthy of any metropolitan production—there is a community-driven organization. The Little Theatre’s hands-on volunteers, both residents and seasonal visitors, are continually hard at work ensuring that the show goes on year after year. Tickets can be purchased either for the season through a new flexible subscription plan or for individual shows. To order tickets or learn more about Pensacola Little Theatre, visit or call (850) 432-2042.





ome of the most spectacular vantage points of Portofino Island are from a sky home’s balcony. To the south, the Gulf of Mexico— deep cobalt at the horizon—meets the beach in happy waves of turquoise. To the north, the Santa Rosa Sound, reflecting complementary greens and blues, lies more quietly, feeding estuaries and providing sanctuary to a variety of wildlife. To the east, snowy white dunes fringed with sea oats shift and change each time the wind blows. The scenery is quite spectacular, but the many pleasures of this innately beautiful place go far beyond pleasing the eyes. Although Portofino’s looks ignite the initial attraction, people quickly fall for countless tangibles and intangibles that foster recreation, relaxation, and rejuvenation. The accommodations and amenities—from luxurious living quarters and gorgeous lagoon-style pools to state-of-the-art fitness facilities and five HydroGrid clay tennis courts—are certainly vital to the lifestyle. The physical structures, both man-made and natural, have produced a highly desirable ecosystem. Everything thrives, however, because of those who not only appreciate the assets, but also painstakingly nurture them. Since 2008, the resort has operated under the direction of Rob Babcock, general manager of Portofino Island and CEO of Premier Island Management Group, the source and servant of all the amenities on the resort and beyond. Having spent nearly three decades in the luxury hospitality industry, Babcock definitely has the professional expertise to anticipate and satisfy what owners



and guests need and desire—but his most valuable insights stem from residing full-time on the resort with his family. “Of course, we’re all about having the best toys on the beach and top-of-the-line equipment in the fitness center,” Babcock says. “We also hire incredible talent, from chefs to spa personnel, so that every experience is the best it can be. I never lose sight of the fact that Portofino exists to enrich people’s lives—our lives. The longer my family and I live here, the better I understand what that means, whether the possibility exists in this moment or will arise sometime in the future.” “Other management companies do not operate with that mind-set,” says Robert Rinke, one of Portofino’s developers and a broker/owner at Levin Rinke Resort Realty, which maintains a sales office on the resort. “When we had an outside company handling our bars, restaurants, and kids’ camp, they kept cutting back services and shortening the season. Rob Babcock came to us with a completely different attitude. He said yes to making the season longer, offering more amenities, and agreeing to live here. Rob lives and breathes Portofino, and in that spirit, he has promoted a true culture of service.” Babcock and his team continually review ways to blend services with amenities and the environment to create the ultimate experience. Adventure Beach on the Gulf side and Adventure Cove on the Santa Rosa Sound are five-star playgrounds with boogie boards, surfboards, kayaks, YOLO paddleboards, WaveRunners, and Hobie Cat sailboats. Adventure Cove also features an inflatable water park of slides and trampolines. Guests can pick and choose their pleasures à la carte, but many prefer an adventure package—deluxe or extreme—for optimal access to various water toys, bicycles and scooters, volleyball and other beach games, and kids’ camps. Without question, extreme and deluxe have real meaning at Portofino. The extreme package, for instance, includes cruises on Portofino I, the resort’s sixty-three-foot catamaran, to watch the Blue Angels fly in formation and to encounter dolphins.



Portofino caters to all interests and ages. Children love the High Tide Kids Club, which engages them in age-appropriate activities—from water sports to ecotours—that vary each day. Parents often remark that their kids wouldn’t usually take part in a camp while on a family vacation, yet they’ve begged to join in after seeing the other boys and girls having so much fun. Knowing that their little ones are in great hands, parents pursue their own sweet adventures. Spa Portofino, specializing in European treatments, is the place to go for pampering and to come away feeling rejuvenated. Others like to use their grown-up time to play tennis at Portofino or golf on one of four beautiful, top-rated courses nearby. Some take to the water, possibly to learn a skill like sailing or paddleboarding in the calm waters of the Sound. Quite a few make a point of working out—often in fitness classes—and many arrange one-on-one coaching with Multisport Performance Institute in order to push past an athletic hurdle or to acquire conditioning techniques. Others indulge their taste buds with gourmet food and sophisticated beverages. Wine tastings are a big hit!



Considering all of the amenities, most visitors find that they can optimize their stays through the Premier Club. Premier guest benefits include a welcome gift upon arrival, beach chair and umbrella setup for two each day, Fitness Center access, a dolphin cruise, one complimentary round of golf daily, the opportunity to earn free nights, and discounts on Adventure Beach, Adventure Cove, and the High Tide Kids Club. They also enjoy complimentary cruises along the sound (it’s a delightful twenty-minute voyage each way) to the Portofino Boardwalk’s shops, restaurants, and live entertainment. Above all, Portofino’s experts eagerly step in to help Premier Club guests design a custom-made vacation plan. Couples, families, groups, and individuals all have different concepts of how they’d like to spend their time at Portofino Island. Taking any single theme or several items on a wish list, Portofino’s Adventure Team will fill in any or all of the details. A couple’s getaway, for instance, might include a private dinner on the beach, complete with white linens and candles. A family might want to embark on ecotours with to-go lunches and snacks. A girlfriends’ weekend might entail

visits to the spa, wine tastings, and a night at the Pensacola Opera. An athlete might want to coordinate visits to the Andrews Institute, renowned for sports medicine, with personalized fitness training and Chef-to-You services. “You might visit us in the summer with your family and then return in the fall with friends to enjoy another facet of Portofino,” Babcock says. “But don’t feel like you must come here with an agenda. Take a look around and see what catches your eye. My family and I have experienced some of our best times when we were doing something that was purely spontaneous.” P




health OF IT



Most agree that an abundance of natural beauty makes Portofino Island uniquely alluring, yet the personality of the place is also an undeniable element of the attraction. Thanks to those who keep the resort running, from seasoned managers down to fresh trainees, the atmosphere is happy, friendly, and fun. While certain nonnegotiable behaviors—establishing eye contact with guests and owners, greeting them with a smile and pleasant conversation, and carrying out requests with a my pleasure kind of attitude—govern all job descriptions, employees could not consistently fake it if they didn’t feel it. Consequently, caring for the individuals who work for the pleasure of others is intrinsic to Portofino’s culture of fitness and philosophy of living well.

plans—the ones major corporations typically reserve for their top executives. At Portofino, all employees are granted access to the program, which is free for full-time staff or offered at a nominal charge for part-timers. Designed and delivered by Dr. Thomas Schneider, a renowned multispecialty physician and author, along with his longtime assistant and the program’s on-site coordinator, Silvia Brooks, the package delivers comprehensive perks. Benefits include one-on-one evaluations and reviews of biometrics and labs; individualized wellness plans with support to remain on target; referrals to specialists; group fitness clubs like running, walking, and kayaking; after-hours use of Portofino’s fabulous facilities; pertinent, revealing lectures by experts on all aspects of health; and mentors for team activities.

As a matter of fact, Premier Island Management Group, the operational arm of Portofino Island, offers an employee wellness program that compares with elite

“Rob Babcock,” Dr. Schneider says, referring to the chief executive officer of Premier Island Management Group and general manager of Portofino Island Resort, “wanted



a bona fide program. There’s a big difference between what we have here and putting a treadmill in a workout room and calling it a wellness program.” Most significantly, Portofino’s employees gain fact-based insights about how to achieve better health, which, in Dr. Schneider’s words, are “different from what they’ve been taught by their parents, heard on TV, or learned from other doctors.” Participants not only appreciate that receiving such benefits is rare, especially from a small, private employer, but they also realize the exponential value in having Dr. Schneider and Silvia as their mentors. In fact, eyes brighten and smiles appear with the mention of Dr. Schneider’s name, and hugs ensue the moment both he and Silvia enter a room. Notably, Dr. Schneider’s approachability is critical to the way he practices. Remarking that “doctor” comes from the Latin docere, meaning “to teach,” Dr. Schneider insists that a physician’s personal relationship with a patient is essential for evaluating the whole individual—mind, body, and spirit—and then empowering him or her to make good decisions about health. Unlike many of his colleagues, he does not subscribe to the notion of the physician mandating a treatment that the patient automatically accepts. Dr. Schneider further maintains that while pharmaceuticals can play a critical role in prevention and recovery, they are too often the quick and ready solution for busy doctors who lack the time to delve into the patient’s circumstances and then explore alternative measures. “Physicians today are under an enormous amount of pressure,” he expresses. “We used to see patients until the day was done, whether that meant we saw one person or twenty.” Sticking to a tight schedule has become the priority. “If I say, ‘Here’s a prescription,’” Dr. Schneider conveys, “I can then say the magic word: ‘Next!’”

Unconventional in the eyes of some, Dr. Schneider further looks beyond the standard indicators to diagnose. For instance, he says, “We could run current labs, like a blood test on sugar that tells me only what you consumed last night, but prognostic labs would tell me what your fasting sugar was over the last four months. At this moment, you might be fine, but if we learn that you’re heading toward diabetes or cardiovascular disease, now is the time to make a change, and we’ll help you.” Regarding sugar, Dr. Schneider points out that few realize they are consuming unhealthy amounts. “When lecturing, I’ve asked people to guess how many daily servings of fruit are healthy,” he says. “They’ll say five because that’s what they’ve been told.” Aside from advantages like fiber and vitamins, however, fruits contain sugar—a problem for those attempting to lose weight or address other concerns. “When you take in sugar, your insulin goes up,” the doctor relays. “Insulin’s a natural hormone made by the pancreas, but above a certain level it inflames your body. On top of that, when sugar enters the blood, it hooks up with a protein. Imagine a bowling ball with spikes rolling over the arteries, tearing up the lining.” Dr. Schneider, however, does not preach abstinence or recommend dreaded physical activities; such ultimatums fail. “Many people look at a wellness paradigm with food and exercise as something that will be painful; it’ll hurt,” he says. “This needs to be fun and enjoyable.” Describing how one’s health and way of life are intertwined, Dr. Schneider points to Okinawa, home to the largest group of centenarians in the world. “Certainly, genes play a role, but another factor appears to be the moai—a small group gathering.”



When they are little, boys and girls are placed in a moai with other children who have similar interests or circumstances. Yielding a sense of community and purpose, the group remains intact over a lifetime. Regarding the elderly in that society, Dr. Schneider says, “They have a shared concept that allows them to rise each morning with the idea of fulfilling a profound goal.” Daily aspirations tend to be unselfish, such as preparing a meal for someone who is ill or tending a garden. “Almost all of them garden. They’re out in the sun, working the dirt, growing their foods. Their diet is rich in yams and other high-fiber carbs, with meat and fish added only a few times a month.” Enticing everyone at Portofino to grow yams is hardly a goal of the employee wellness program, but as Silvia says, “Hopefully, we’re helping them make microcosmic changes by prompting critical thinking about their health. We’ve had a couple of people who’ve lost fifty pounds because the lightbulb went off.” Having attended medical school at Georgetown University, followed by training at Harvard, Bethesda Naval Hospital, Johns Hopkins, and the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Schneider is board certified in five medical specialties. Also a former Navy pilot




and Vietnam War veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange, the doctor has experienced his own share of health issues, compelling him to research effective approaches to healing, rejuvenating, and regenerating the mind and body. Dr. Schneider eventually established a private practice and became known for his holistic approach to medicine. In 2013, he authored A Physician’s Apology: Are WE Making You Sick? Taking a lighthearted tone that reflects his personality, Dr. Schneider reveals truths about health and modern medical practices while providing practical advice and encouraging individuals to choose to make each day better based upon their needs and desires. Better, he clarifies, doesn’t necessarily mean being cured or living longer, although every improvement is good, and small adjustments in behavior and attitude can produce big changes in health. Pragmatic as well as empathetic, Dr. Schneider believes that “kindness is the mark of an outstanding physician. It’s being willing to see what might be best for this patient, even if we don’t accept it. We as physicians are trained to see a problem and to fix it, regardless of how or whether the patient wants it fixed.” Instead, Dr. Schneider says, “I’d like to see medicine become a field of telling the patient, ‘These are the paths that you could take,’ so that the individual decides. If that path doesn’t work, we’ll try another.” Indeed, his open-minded attitude about health and happiness fits right in and flows throughout Portofino. P 118


Portofino Island A

long with fulfilling a physical need, food stimulates and satisfies the mind and body on many sensory levels. In the spirit of living well, Portofino’s food and beverage experts love to celebrate the pure pleasure of eating and drinking by inventing delicious, intriguing recipes that turn locally fresh ingredients into regionally inspired dishes.

stone-ground grits features a fish that many associate with the southern waters. Rich and spicy, the popular entrée at our Terracotta restaurant offers a sophisticated take on foods that are traditionally Southern and Cajun.

Seasonal variations, regional influences, guest requests, and kitchen explorations all play a part in Portofino’s evolving menus and, over time, produce our resort’s signature recipes. Thus, for foodies and all others who simply enjoy a tasty bite or sip, we are delighted to share a few of our prized favorites.

“I am a big fan of this dish,” says Jera Hughes, director of food and beverage at Premier Island Management Group. “The Creole flavors, andouille, and jalapeños add a nice heat, while the grits give a smoky, creamy complement. Finally, the marmalade injects the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.” Jera recommends a chardonnay or a pinot grigio as an accompaniment to mellow out the flavors.

The andouille-crusted grouper with sauce Creole, green tomato marmalade, and jalapeño-Gouda

Also known for fantastic pizza, Portofino Island presents a uniquely Southern and deliciously



grown-up option with the Southbound. “This is one of my favorite pizzas,” says Jera. “The sauce is creamy and loaded with garlic. The cheeses, bacon, and red onions all complement the barbecued chicken, and the white barbecue sauce just adds a nice, peppery acid to balance them.” Some argue that almost any beverage goes with pizza. Jera suggests a stout (dark beer) or an IPA (India pale ale) to make the most of the Southern barbecue–cheesy pizza combination. For the ideal summertime cocktail, the resort offers its signature Portofino Punch. “The fresh fruit flavors definitely stand out,” says Jera, adding that the drink mingles well with any backyard party. “Be careful not to drink too many!” P


Southbound Pizza 1 cup barbecued chicken, shredded 1/2 cup bacon, chopped 1/2 red onion, julienned 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup shredded mozzarella 1 cup Boursin or Alouette cheese 1 cup heavy cream 1 16-inch round pizza dough 4 ounces white barbecue sauce Salt and pepper to taste

SAUCE Heat the heavy cream and Boursin or Alouette cheese in a saucepan until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.

WHITE BARBECUE SAUCE 5 cups mayo 2 cups apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup black pepper 1 tablespoon salt 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 ounce lemon juice Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to incorporate. To assemble: Spread a layer of the cheese sauce on the dough up to a fourth inch from the edge of the crust. Mix the shredded cheddar and mozzarella together and spread evenly across dough. Top with the barbecued chicken, bacon, and red onions. Bake at 375 degrees until cheese is bubbly and starting to color (about 15 minutes). Finish with a drizzle of white barbecue sauce. Cut and serve. Enjoy!







Andouille-Crusted Grouper with Sauce Creole, Green Tomato Marmalade, and Jalapeño-Gouda Stone-Ground Grits (Serves 2) GROUPER


2 6-ounce grouper fillets 1 pound andouille sausage, casing removed 2 cups panko bread crumbs 3 eggs, beaten 1 cup flour Salt and pepper to taste

(Must chill for approximately 30 minutes before serving.) 2 pounds green tomatoes, cored and diced 2 1/2 lemons, zested and juiced 1 ounce ginger, minced 3 cups sugar

Grind the sausage in a food processor. Once the sausage is ground, add panko to the processor until it is incorporated evenly. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the grouper fillets in the seasoned flour and then dip them in the beaten eggs. Place the fish in a dish and top with the sausage breading, pressing the mixture firmly into the fillets. Place in the refrigerator for later use.

SAUCE CREOLE 1 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper 1/4 cup chopped celery 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 ounces olive oil 1 ounce Tabasco sauce 1 ounce Worcestershire sauce Salt and pepper to taste Place the chopped tomatoes in a food processor (reserve a half cup) and puree. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add garlic, stirring for one minute. Add the onion, celery, and bell peppers, stirring until soft. Add the tomato puree and the half cup of reserved tomato to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Place the green tomatoes, lemon juice, zest, and ginger in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for an hour, stirring frequently and adding water if mixture dries out. Stir in the sugar and bring to a boil. Stir constantly until the mixture becomes the consistency of jam (about 30 minutes). Place the marmalade on a cold plate and tilt. It is ready if it does not run. Chill in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes before serving.

JALAPEÑO-GOUDA GRITS 1 cup stone-ground grits 1 cup white wine 2 cups heavy cream (milk may be substituted) 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced 1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, grated Salt and pepper to taste Bring the cream and wine to a boil in a saucepan. Add in the grits and stir them frequently until they begin to thicken. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Add in the jalapeño, Gouda cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese is melted and incorporated. To cook the fish: Heat oil in a sauté pan and place the fish in it. Cook until crust becomes golden brown. Place the fish in a 350-degree oven until an internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached. To serve: Place a scoop of grits in the center of each plate. Lay one fish fillet on top of the grits and then ladle a spoonful of sauce Creole over the fish. Smear some green tomato marmalade on the edges of the plate and serve. Bon appétit!




Portofino Punch 1 1/2 ounces coconut rum 1 ounce cranberry juice 1/4 ounce grenadine 1 1/2 ounces crème de coconut 1 ounce orange juice 1 ounce pineapple juice 1/2 ounce Gosling’s Rum (float) Mix all ingredients except the Gosling’s Rum in a tumbler with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a rocks or cocktail glass. Float the half ounce of Gosling’s Rum on top. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, an orange slice, and a cherry. Enjoy this punch cocktail at your next backyard party! Please drink responsibly.



e nd u r i n g b e a u t y, s t y le & g r a c e Within months of the 2012 Portofino Life fashion shoot and the magazine’s arrival, Sabine Laguna, owner of Envie Boutique and Premier Island Management Group’s cofounder, was diagnosed with brain cancer. Sabine went on to fight a courageous two-year battle against the disease. In June 2014, she passed away peacefully with her family by her side. She left behind her loves—her husband and business partner, Rob Babcock; two beautiful daughters, Zoë and Sofie; and family around the globe—and an enduring spirit of joie de vivre, grace, and style that touched so many who were lucky enough to call her “friend.”


any factors go into the making of a fashion icon: an innate personal style, a unique fashion sensibility, and an enviable self-assurance, among others. Sabine Laguna possessed these qualities and so much more.

Sabine’s graceful and effortless sense of style, beautifully captured on the pages of the 2012 edition of Portofino Life, served as the inspiration for the magazine’s fashion shoot and editorial. Within the ten-page spread, Envie’s spring trends from that year, which Sabine had thoughtfully curated, were paired with her timeless beauty and style. The result: a beautiful fashion editorial evoking the iconic style of Jackie O and a lasting tribute to the first lady of Premier Island Management Group.



Sabine’s international upbringing—growing up in Venezuela and spending summers in Paris—and her mother’s and grandmother’s own senses of style helped develop her unique aesthetic that carried over into her love for fashion and eventually into the shop she owned and managed, Envie Boutique. Sabine’s fashion sense and business acumen made for a perfect mix when the opportunity to open Envie presented itself. She threw herself into all aspects of the retail business and discovered a true knack for forecasting trends and discovering new fashion lines. The thrill and challenge of the new venture proved to have many ups and downs, but it was a ride that she and her husband, Rob, both enjoyed and shared. And, upon opening

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself


—coco chanel





the doors of the boutique, you truly felt as if you were stealing a glimpse into Sabine’s dream closet, and everyone wanted to dress like her. Much like the former First Lady, whom Sabine so gracefully channeled, the depth and breadth of her style was much larger than the clothes she wore; it was evident in the way she lived her life and cared for those she loved. Her family, colleagues, and friends have special memories of her selfless graciousness, her love for life, and her adventurous spirit. She is thoughtfully remembered on the pages of Portofino Life again and forever in the hearts of those who knew her.

Envie Boutique, located on the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk, has become known for its blend of sophisticated, fashion-forward trends with effortless beach style since opening in 2011. The boutique boasts a faithful clientele who look to the staff for their expertise and fashion forecasting—a skill that came naturally to founder Sabine Laguna. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my dear friend Sabine,” states buyer and retail director Marsha Chouinard. “We honor her incredible sense of style with the clothing Envie carries, as we do her commitment to personally assisting customers in finding something that truly makes them feel good.”

“Even though people may be well known, they hold in their hear ts the emotions of a simple person for the moments that are the most important of those we know on ear th: birth, marriage and death.” —j acqu e lin e ke n n e d y on as s is POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016


Coco Chanel once stated, “Fashion changes, but style endures.” And, it’s the enduring style of Sabine Laguna that lives on in the pages of this fashion spread; in Envie Boutique, the shop she opened and thoughtfully managed; and in her beautiful daughters, Zoë and Sofie, who share her unique sense of style and a striking resemblance to their stunning mother.

Envie’s lines range from the upscale Trina Turk brand to the more laid-back, bohemian looks of Ella Moss and Free People, all mixed with Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines, and other up-and-coming brands to create a shop that celebrates beachside living and effortless style. The shop also carries a wide range of accessories, jewelry, shoes, children’s clothing, and menswear.

400 Quietwater B each Road, Un i t # 8 , Pe n s a c o l a B e a c h , F L 8 5 0 - 9 3 4 - 7 0 5 0 | t o ne n v i e . c o m 132


In Loving Memory

January 17, 1964 – June 6, 2014

n June 6, 2014, Sabine Mireille Laguna passed away from complications following a vigorous and courageous two-year battle against brain cancer. She is survived by and shines brightly on in her loving husband, Rob Babcock, and their two beautiful daughters, Zoë and Sofie, who have exhibited grace and maturity through an ordeal that children should never have to endure.

at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, she and Rob moved to Pensacola Beach, where they started their own business venture, a hospitality management company at Portofino Island Resort. In 2012, Sabine graced the cover of the resort’s in-room magazine, Portofino Life, in which an entire fashion shoot was dedicated to her channeling of Jacqueline Kennedy’s style, which she so elegantly brought to life.

Sabine exuded life, hope, beauty, cheerfulness, style, charm, intelligence—and most of all—love! She was confident, spoke several languages, and was loved by many in our community and beyond. Sabine had an innate fashion sense that was most likely rooted in her upbringing in France and Venezuela. After years of working

This humble tribute does not do justice to Sabine, a woman who was an inspiration to many. It is our great honor to be able to share her legacy, and as we bid adieu to this lovely person, she enters rest in Heaven. We ask that the Babcock family be remembered in your hearts and prayers.

Sabine’s memorial service was held at the Seaside Chapel at five o’clock on the warm, sunny evening of June 11. A celebration of life gathering immediately followed at The Bay restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016


a bounty of fun at

Pensacola Beach Boardwalk—a delightful Portofino I catamaran cruise, a pleasant bike ride, or a quick car ride away from Portofino Island Resort—is a treasure trove on Pensacola Beach. Whether stopping by for a short visit or spending a full day, natives and tourists alike love the fabulous food and retail therapy, plus the free entertainment and family-friendly fun. Upon disembarking (or parking), visitors quickly absorb the island spirit while taking in the scenery and considering where they want to shop or eat. No matter what they choose to do, a stroll along the boardwalk, which is right on the Santa Rosa Sound, usually culminates in finding a vantage point to relax and observe all of the activity on and off the water. Many—the youngest children and the kids at heart—can’t resist a refreshing dip, so they are happy to know that swimming is allowed at the aptly named Quietwater Beach. A great place to socialize and unwind while keeping an eye on their little swimmers, Pensacola Beach Boardwalk is a favorite venue for parents. The atmosphere is both laid-back and festive, especially when live musicians perform. Bands regularly appear in the Shell, the bandstand facing Pensacola Beach Boardwalk Amphitheatre, which arguably has the best seats on the beach at sunset.



While enjoying the island vibe, treasure seekers on the lookout for something shiny and new must dive into the shops. Whether just browsing or on a mission to buy, guys and gals find an assortment of the familiar brands they love as well as distinctive items not seen elsewhere. Before, after, and in between other activities, grown-ups and kids also welcome the variety of eateries with menus worth celebrating. Before venturing to Pensacola Beach Boardwalk, individuals should take note: only one visit compels most to return again and again!

whether stopping by for a short visit or spending a full day, natives and tourists alike love the fabulous food and retail therapy, plus the free entertainment and familyfriendly fun. POR TOFINO LIFE 2015/2016



Retail Shops, Restaurants & Bars Bamboo Willie’s Beachside Bar (850) 916-9888 /

Hemingway’s Island Grill (850) 934-4747 /

Bamboo Willie’s Beachside Bar is all about fun—including dancing on a huge open-air deck and live music on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Known for its ten frozen daiquiri flavors, Bamboo Willie’s also has a fantastic selection of beers and several specialty drinks.

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s thirst for adventure and great food, Hemingway’s Island Grill presents handcrafted dishes, many featuring seafood. Themed according to islands far and near, each selection treats diners to a unique port of call. Specialty drinks complete the adventure.

Boardwalk Cafe / (850) 934-1223

Hooters / (850) 934-9464 hooters online. net

Boardwalk Cafe presents casual, family-friendly café dining with American, Greek, and Mediterranean dishes. The ice cream parlor is also among the most popular stops on the beach.

Cactus Flower Cafe / (850) 934-5999 Cactus Flower Cafe, a Mexican restaurant with additional locations in Pensacola and Navarre, Florida, specializes in flavorful, healthy California-style Mexican cuisine. Fabulous appetizers, delicious entrées, and incredible desserts are all made fresh in-house. A vast wine menu enhances the dining experience.

Envie Boutique / (850) 934-7050 Envie, a boutique that patrons visit regularly (which might be weekly or every year they return to Pensacola Beach), always has the latest beach and city fashions. Multiple generations of women find something trendy, flirty, graceful, and sophisticated to love in brands that include Free People, Lilla P, Trina Turk, and Ryu. Precious children’s clothing, perfect gifts, and the best accessories are also hard to resist. Furthermore, to everyone’s delight, the merchandise constantly changes! Even the guys, who assumed only the comfortable rockers out front would interest them, look forward to checking out the latest in Envie’s designer men’s clothing.

Go Fish Clothing & Jewelry Co. (850) 934-5251 / A landmark on the Pensacola Boardwalk since 1989, Go Fish Clothing & Jewelry Co. carries fashion, art, and more. Along with wonderful women’s resort wear, accessories, and jewelry, shoppers find Sun ’N’ Sand hats and bags, custom-fitted toe rings, nautical sterling silver jewelry, beaded and seashell jewelry, and fragrances. Other items include wood carvings from Bali, Russell Grace photography and paintings, and an eclectic array of unique Christian merchandise, souvenirs, and gifts. 136


The iconic Hooters, launched in 1983 by six businessmen in Clearwater, Florida, features great wings, all kinds of beer and wine, and beautiful Hooters Girls. The boardwalk location also offers full bar service with cocktails that exist just for the fun of it, starting with their names: Blonde Bombshell, Christmas Light Lemonade, T Bird Tea, Purple Hooters, and Beam Me Up Scotty!

International Boutique (850) 916-9888 Aptly named International Boutique, this colorful specialty shop reflects owner Margaret Araujo’s European and Latin travels, as well as her bohemian sense of style. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Margaret has lived all over the world and has chosen many one-of-a-kind items for her boutique. Highlights include fun jewelry, great sandals, and a marvelous selection of clothing—from casual to cruise wear—offered at terrific prices. Customers of all ages love the charming, old-world atmosphere and service.

Islanders Coastal Outfitter (850) 916-0454 / A go-to place for beach attire and accessories since 1980, Islanders Coastal Outfitter offers the latest swimwear, tank tops, flip-flops, T-shirts, and sunglasses. In addition to the shop’s world-famous pig logo T-shirts that feature happy hogs savoring life, brands include Oakley, Ray-Ban, Costa, Patagonia, Toms, Rainbow, OluKai, Reef, Hurley, Billabong, Quiksilver, and Volcom. Inspired by a love of the great outdoors, the shop also provides surfboard, boogie board, and skim board rentals, all granted with a positive, laid-back, surf-inspired attitude. Locals and tourists enjoy the refreshing outlook on life and appreciate the fact that Islanders donates at least one percent of all Islanders brand merchandise to organizations “committed to helping Earth, our only Island.”

Papa’s Pizza / (850) 934-1198 Papa’s Pizza specializes in New York–style pizzas, made by hand with traditional methods that date back to the 1940s. Owner Mike Pinzone pledges a two-bite, money-back guarantee: “If you take two bites and you don’t like it, we’ll give you your money back—no questions asked.” The most popular menu items are the Celebrity Pizzas, which are loaded with fresh toppings.

Salty Beach Outfitters / (850) 934-1009 Salty Beach Outfitters is a necessity for ladies and gents who know that the refined, preppy styles favored in the South look great anywhere they travel. All find fabulous options in casual coastal apparel and accessories, such as shirts, dresses, T-shirts, shorts, swim trunks, cover-ups, hats, and sunglasses. Brands include Southern Tide, Lauren James, Columbia, Maui Jim, Lokai, and more.

The Wine Bar – A Bistro / (850) 916-1009 Accessed through Envie or its own entrance, The Wine Bar – A Bistro features wines by the glass, the flight, or the bottle, plus specialty beers, coffee, and other beverages. The quaint wine and cheese shop also serves as a wonderful eatery with bistro fare—salads, sandwiches, and soups. While enjoying a delicious meal or sampling imported cheeses, patrons can discuss complementing wine selections with the knowledgeable and amiable staff. Special wine tastings also take place, and private events can also be arranged.

Papa s Pizza We are located on the Portofino Boardwalk, and we’re proud to say we’ve been here for almost two decades. Just imagine—now all you have to do is call in for PAPA'S PIZZA, and you can get the most famous pie in the Panhandle brought right to your door by Delivery Dudes. For Delivery, call 850.610.2707 For Pickup, call 850.934.1198






Together in Paradise The secret is out: Portofino Island hosts amazing proposals, weddings, and honeymoons. Photography by tony thagard

“People contact us all the time asking for interesting ways to propose or for assistance in carrying out their plans,” says Jessica Jensen, director of corporate accounts and special events for Portofino island resort. “one man had the idea of taking his girlfriend on a walk down the beach, and upon their return, he wanted us to run out holding Paddleboards with the message ‘will you marry me?’” the team used blue painter’s tape to create the words, and covert texts between Jessica and the groom-to-be ensured that the timing was perfect!



“Whether we’re planning a surprise proposal, the details of the wedding ceremony, or the good-bye brunch at the end, we’re building memories,” says Jessica. Regarding such efforts, she’s proud of the stellar reputation that Portofino has established in the wedding arena. “The majority of our brides find us through word-of-mouth referrals. A lot of brides also tell us they’ve previously attended a wedding here.” Mallory Bass Webb first learned of Portofino from her mother, who’d heard about the resort but had not visited. Her soon-to-be in-laws, with family ties to Pensacola, were familiar with the property and encouraged the choice. Viewing photographs and speaking with Jessica over the phone convinced Mallory to seal the deal several months before visiting Portofino. “Jessica made me feel so at ease,” Mallory confides. The idea of a beach destination wedding appealed to the couple for a number of reasons. “There is something holy and beautiful about the beach,” Mallory offers. “Also, realizing weddings can be stressful, I wanted a wonderful experience—a beach vacation for everyone with a wedding at the end!” Incidentally, while growing up (Mallory in Jackson, Mississippi, and Alex, her groom, in Midland, Texas), both had spent their summer vacations in Northwest Florida and were drawn to the Emerald Coast. Even so, Mallory admits, “I was initially worried about a wedding held at a resort.” Before considering Portofino, Mallory had a vision of marrying at the beach, but in more of an “earthy” setting with a “grassroots” feeling. “I didn’t want to feel like I was getting married in a hotel,” she explains. Despite any misgivings, Mallory says, “Jessica and I clicked from the very beginning. She understood our concept and went for it.” “One of the most enjoyable aspects about working with Mallory was exploring what made her relationship with Alex special and then brainstorming over how to incorporate those elements,” Jessica says. The couple began dating while in graduate school, where Mallory and Alex both earned masters of fine arts degrees (in poetry and fiction, respectively). They later worked for the same literary agency. “We used typewriters and books with flowers as centerpieces to reflect their love of literature and writing,” Jessica recalls. Fresh lavender in 140


the bridesmaids’ bouquets reminded the couple of their first kiss, shared in a lavender field. Describing herself as “a detailed kind of person” who wanted to be involved in the planning, Mallory traveled with Alex to Portofino over Easter to finalize selections for their early June nuptials. “Alex and I had the most divine weekend,” she says, recalling food tastings with wine pairings. “Portofino handled the food. We had prime rib for the wedding dinner, and everything was amazing and so gorgeous.” They were both pleased with the presentations and flavors. “Instead of a groom’s cake, we had a giant fruit tart that was beautiful.” To make the most of her beach theme, Mallory wanted a sand castle–style wedding cake and relied upon Portofino’s recommended vendor list to find just the right pastry chef. The couple ultimately decided who to hire, but



Jessica guided them by discussing the pros and cons of each resource. One of Mallory’s wishes—a reggae band for the reception—was not on the go-to list, but Jessica networked to locate a talented group that rarely accepted wedding gigs yet agreed to perform for the occasion.

their concerns. Mallory and Alex then stood inside a ring of greenery to exchange their vows. “We have a modern family with many sides,” Mallory says, “so we placed the chairs in a circle. Everyone came together for this beautiful moment, and I loved that aspect.”

Other decisions entailed venues and activities for a celebration that officially began on Thursday evening with a private sunset cruise for the couple’s friends and family on Portofino I, the resort’s sixty-three-foot catamaran. Friday evening’s rehearsal dinner took place as anticipated on the veranda beside the lagoon pool, but Jessica had a surprise gift for the bride and her attendants earlier in the day. “She and another planner shuttled us to a nail salon in Gulf Breeze,” says Mallory, “I didn’t even know it was going to happen!”

A few vacationers remained on the beach during the early evening ceremony, but all were respectful. “When I went down the boardwalk to the sand, all of the men took off their hats,” says Mallory. “One gentleman put on his shirt and turned his chair toward the ceremony!”

Mallory recalls meeting everyone who would be working her event before any of the festivities began. From the time she arrived on Wednesday, she says, “Members of the staff made a point of approaching me and introducing themselves. All were extremely supportive and worked hard.” The ceremony, scheduled for Saturday at sunset, took place on the beach beside the Gulf of Mexico. Mallory loved the idea of all two hundred people in attendance taking off their shoes. “I wanted us to sink our toes in the sand,” she says. Although the weather cooperated, a new moon was rising, and Mallory wondered whether it would be bright enough. “During the planning, we went back and forth about lighting,” she confides. In the end, Jessica took the precaution of providing lights, surprising the couple and relieving 142


The reception was held poolside, and there, too, other guests in the vicinity were gracious. “They enjoyed seeing the wedding party,” says Mallory. At the end of the evening, the newlyweds made a sparkler-lit exit and retreated to the honeymoon suite. Someone had placed candles throughout and created a path of flower petals leading to the bedroom. The couple also found to-go boxes of the wedding meal and cake, plus champagne and strawberries. Mallory and Alex departed on Sunday for their honeymoon, but many of their guests stayed longer. The family of one groomsman, deciding they never wanted to say good-bye to Portofino, later returned and purchased a condo! Mallory and Alex also determined that they couldn’t find a better community in which to live. They now hold teaching positions at Pensacola State College and live just down the road from the resort. In fact, they regularly pass by Portofino on their frequent bike rides along the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

a perfect place for your perfect day

Indoor and outdoor spaces for parties up to 500 • Premier event styling and catering services | 850.622.0760 | Miramar Beach, Florida

Profile for The Idea Boutique

Portofino Life 2015  

The official magazine of Portofino Island Resort in Pensacola Beach, Florida.

Portofino Life 2015  

The official magazine of Portofino Island Resort in Pensacola Beach, Florida.